Campaigners are embroiled in a fight for the pension rights of women born in the 1950s, thought to include 35,000 people in Gloucestershire. Here we take a look at the battles they face in the courts as they wait for judges to decide if the pension age rise was fair.
The landmark BackTo60 pension ruling, suported by WASPI, may not be heard until the Autumn but the controversy about pension inequality is still sparking massive debates on social media.
Contrary to popular belief, most of the women born in the 1950s fighting for their pension rights are not campaigning for the return to the days when men retired at 65 and women at 60.
But they say the way successive governments tried to equalise the retirement age for men and women has discriminated against around 3.8 million women and forced many into poverty during retirement.
And they are also saying they were not given enough, if any, notice to prepare for working those extra years, so deserve to be compensated.
Some had already taken early retirement in anticipation of receiving their state pension at 60 and others did not have careers because they had been expected to stay at home and bring up children.
Many older women are now trapped in low paid work or have been forced to sell their homes to make ends meet.
The women affected were born between April 6, 1950, and April 5, 1960 but it is generally accepted that 300,000 women born between December 1953 and October 1954 suffered the most.
Although many believe that allowing both sexes to retire on a state pension at 60 would leave the job market free for young people, that is not what they are arguing for.
BackTo60 want “full restitution” to the financial position they would have been in if the state pension age remained at 60 for those women caught in the middle, 35,000 of whom are thought to live in Gloucestershire.
The group has backed a legal challenge by two women – Julie Delve, 62, and Karen Glynn, 63 – who argued that raising the pension age unlawfully discriminated against them “on the grounds of age, sex, and age and sex combined”.
WASPI – Women Against State Pension Inequality – is another campaign group prevalent in Gloucestershire which supported BackTo60 at the High Court in London.
But they are talking to politicians about transitional arrangements rather than than full restitution demanded by BackTo60.
The Pensions Act 1995 increased the state pension age for women to make them equal with men by 2020 but this was speeded up in 2011 by new laws to put them on an equal footing by 2018.
This year the state pensions age for men and women rose to 66 and in 2028 it will be 67.
But the women argue it’s not equal because of historical inequality which damaged their ability to put money aside for retirement.
Many did not get equal pay when starting out in their careers.
And it has now emerged that 4.6 million men aged over 60 have had the last five years of their national insurance contributions paid by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) because they were unemployed.
The “men only national insurance subsidy” began in 1983 and has continued for 35 years.
Some say the injustice continues today as most low paid and part-time work is done by women so they do not get tax free contributions to their pension like those on higher pay.
Estimates on how much it would cost varies but before the last election the Labour Party agreed to put aside £58 billion over five years to compensate the women.
Under that plan the average payout to the WASPI women would be £15,380 and the maximum would be £31,300.
The government claims a reversal of the pension changes in the Acts of Parliament of 1995 and 2011 would cost £215 billion over the period 2010-11 to 2025-26.
Which? Head of Money Gareth Shaw today told Express.co.uk that the Government will fight tooth and nail not to give the money to the women.
“The Government has been resolute in its answer to this that the cost of any solution here would be astronomical to the taxpayer,” he said.
“The state pension bill is already incredibly high, and that will place further burden on the country’s finances and on the taxpayer.”
He added: “Unless told otherwise through the courts, and I’m sure the Government would put forward a vociferous challenge, they will not be making any changes to the state pension age for women, or indeed making any back-payments.
“I think that’s where things are at the moment and the challenge that many women in that age group face.”