UP TO 1.5 million UK jobs could be created if women in their 60s were allowed to access their state pensions early and retire from work, claim women’s pension campaigners in Coventry and Warwickshire.
BackTo60 and Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) have been campaigning for the pension rights of nearly 4 million women born in the 1950s who expected to retire at 60.
Teresa Bowers, co-ordinator of Coventry & Warwickshire Women Against State Pension Injustice (Waspi), said: “Around 1 million women aged 60 to 64, and over half a million women over 65, in the UK are in work. In fact we make up over 10% of the workforce.
“It would be a win-win solution to help the current unemployment crisis. Older women whose jobs have become too strenuous could retire if they wished. Much-needed jobs would be available to younger people. Many of those who joined the workforce would leave the benefits system. Their spending power would increase and the economy would benefit.
“Women in our 60s are advised by the Government to minimise contact with other people because of Covid-19. But many over-60s women are working in public-facing roles such as social care, the NHS or retail. They are frightened to go to work but cannot afford not to because they have no other source of income. It is not just common sense, but also humane, to allow them to retire.”
“Our members have written to their MPs to ask them to raise the matter in Parliament and help the 48,500 1950s born women in Coventry and Warwickshire.”
The group is backed by Taiwo Owatemi, MP for Coventry North West, who said: “Women born in the 1950s helped rebuild Coventry from the rubble of the war, but now they are being repaid with an historical injustice that must be rectified.
“Naturally, they have my full support in challenging the unfairness of pension inequality. Everyone should have the right to dignity and security in their older years – but these women are being denied just that.”
Local Waspi member Teresa Bowers, 64, started work at 16 and has worked all her life.
She said: “I am on a zero hours contract and am really struggling.
“I was furloughed for a few months with very little pay and am currently off sick as I have problems with my knees. Because of my low pay I cannot claim sick pay and my duties include going into people’s homes.
“Government has advised that anyone over 60 should minimise their contact with other people because of Covid-19, at 64 I am very, very anxious about this and my employers cannot give me duties that do not include going into other’s homes. The only other option would be for me to resign.
“If I took this option, I would be sanctioned on a recent claim for universal credit made by my husband as he has been made redundant. We are living off his redundancy payment just now which won’t last long , he is not due to retire for another 13 months. I have nearly two years to wait. I don’t know how we are going to manage.”
The state pension was equalised by law back in 1995, raising the pension age to 66, 67 or 68 depending on a person’s date of birth. Campaigners do not oppose an equal pension age but the speed with which women’s pension age has been raised giving many no chance to build up a pension.