In September, two women who represented the interests of Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) lost a crucial court of appeal challenge. The court ruled that increasing the age at which women born in the 1950s receive their pension to 66 is lawful.
The court ruled unanimously against the two women in a major setback for pension equalities campaigners. The group claimed that the government’s changes are a “disaster” for those on lower incomes.
The two claimants, Julie Delve, 62 and Karen Glynn, 63, had appealed to the higher court after losing previous claims in the high court.
However, the court found that adopting the same state pension age for men and women did not amount to unlawful discrimination under either EU law or the European convention on human rights. The judges agreed that the raising of women’s pension eligibility age is a matter of macro-economic policy where parliament has great decision making power and ultimately ruled against the women.
The women’s lawyers had argued that the women were indirectly discriminated against. They claimed the lack of a state pension for women aged between 60 and 65 affected women disproportionately. A higher proportion of women in this age group rely on the state pension to cover their basic living costs due to income inequality between genders.
The court of appeal accepted that many women born in the 1950s reached their 60s in a poorer financial position than men. However, they argued that this didn’t make it discriminatory to apply the same age to both women and men.
This isn’t the first time that the state pensions entitlement age has been the same for women and men. When state pensions were introduced back in 1909, the age was the same for all. It was only in 1940 that the government reduced the entitlement age for women to 60.
From 1995 onwards, a series of Acts increased the age at which women could receive their pensions. Now, the eligibility age for both men and women has been raised to 66, 67 or 68, depending on their date of birth.
The claimants’ legal team is actively looking at appealing the court’s decision.
Christina McAnea, from the union Unison, said: “Those on lower incomes have been left in dire straits, struggling to make ends meet with precious little support from the government. It’s now time MPs intervened to give them the financial help many so desperately need.”
We’re sure that this isn’t the last we’ll be hearing from the Waspi women. Watch this space.