Women fighting to show a change in pension age qualification for women born in the 1950s was discriminatory have lost their Court of Appeal case today (September 15.
A legal challenge to the way the Government changed the pension age for women was dismissed by the High Court last year with a finding in favour of the government.
In June 2019 the Backto60 campaign group brought the judicial review case to the Divisional Court, which examined whether 3.9 million women born in the 1950s were appropriately communicated with regarding changes to the state pension age that result in a later retirement.
They were calling for this cohort of women to receive their state pension from the age of 60. There action was supported by other women’s pension rights groups including Waspi (Women against state pension injustice).
Up until 2010 women were eligible for their state pension when they reached the age of 60 but changes have seen this rise with the age at which women qualify for the state pension moving up to 65. In October this is due to rise to 66 for both men and women. It will rise again for men and women to 67 between 2026 and 2028 and to 68 by 2046.
Backto60 campaigners say women born in the 1950s have been unfairly hit, did not receive proper notice and many have been left in poverty. The group has taken several avenues of legal action and wants reparation for the years of pension that women have lost out on.
The group had vowed to take the case to the Supreme Court if the appeal court bid failed.
But a summary of the High Court judgement by Lord Justice Irwin and Mrs Justice Whipple said: “There was no direct discrimination on grounds of sex, because this legislation does not treat women less favourably than men in law.”
The government says the aim is to bring the retirement age for men and women in line. Increasing life expectancy means the government needs to make pension payments later in a person’s life.
Backto60 launched a campaign to raise £72,000 to be able to bring an appeal.
The main issue in the appeal was whether the Pensions Acts enacted between 1995 and 2014 which equalised the state pension age for men and women and then raised the state pension age for both genders gave rise to unlawful discrimination either directly on the basis of age or indirectly on the basis of gender or a combination of age and gender.
The appeal also raised the question whether the government was under an obligation to notify the affected women of the changes to their pension age and whether the delay in bringing the challenge ruled out the grant of any remedy if Backto60 had succeed.
Today the decision by Master of the Rolls, Sir Terence Etherton, Lord Justice Sir Nicholas Underhill, and Lady Justice Dame Vivien Rose was not in favour of the Backto60 bid.
A summary of the decision said the appeal was dismissed unanimously and “adopting the same state pension age for men and women does not amount to unlawful discrimination under either EU law or the Human Rights Convention.”
The court also ruled that the appeal had been brought application “ substantially out of time.”
It added: “The Court upholds the Divisional Court’s conclusion that the legislation equalising and then raising the state pension age was justified.”
The case was brought by Julie Delve and Karen Glynn, on behalf of the Backto60 campaign. The pension age changes have impacted around 3.8 million women born in the 1950s.
Backto60 campaign leader Joanne Welch said today: “Both Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer have spoken about the injustice to which 50s women have been subjected. Yet DWP challenges an indefensible and pays the ‘Treasury Devil’ and his 13 strong team with taxpayers’ funding to say the opposite at Court of Appeal? Really?”
A Waspi campaign, statement says: “The decision is another kick in the teeth for the 3.8million women born in the 1950s who have been denied several years of state pension we have paid into throughout our working lives and have had their retirement dreams shattered.
“It seems the British justice system is incapable of recognising that we have clearly been treated unfairly. They also appear to fail to recognise the devastation and despair suffered by women and their families and the serious hardship they now continue to face.
“We are grateful to the Backto60 campaign and their legal team for taking this case. We look forward to hearing their response as to whether there are grounds to appeal today’s decision.”
Waspi East Kent coordinator Penny Anne Wells said: “After five years of campaigning I am very disappointed that the injustice has not been recognised. Women born in 1950s deserved adequate notice of the rise in their pension age and recognition of the gender discrimination experienced by their generation.
“I take heart in knowing the campaign and its members have been able to offer emotional support and friendship to each other. The Waspi campaign has been formidable and I hope that at the very least it will make government more mindful to consider the impact of legislation for women and be a warning that when necessary women will stand and fight injustices in the future.”
Backto60 has been contacted for comment.