Why Stand for Parliament? Because 3.8 million citizens have been overlooked.
I've been actively campaigning against State Pension Injustice for the last 3 years here in the Glasgow Lanarkshire Dunbartonshire and Renfrewshire regional branch, which encompasses East Dunbartonshire . There are 6000 women directly affected by State Pension Age changes in this constituency.
Women born in the 1950s, have had their State Pension Age changed with no notice given to them about how the 1995 act affected them, unless they had specifically requested a State Pension forecast, so many believed they were still eligible for retirement at 60.
The goal posts were moved even further in 2011 when the age was raised by another year.
The Government's transitional arrangements were draconian, with changes of a few days in your date of birth adding additional months or even years to your entitlement date (see illustration) and all those born after 1955 waiting till they were 66 years of age. A birthdate lottery. A cohort who started paying NI at 15 or 16 years of age in many cases.
Compounding this, there are related changes to Pension Credits and bereavement arrangements which further disadvantage this cohort of 50s born women and also now 50s born men who also in addition to facing a one year SPA rise have changes to associated age related benefits e.g. heating allowances if in a mixed age couple.
Our first national demonstration was held the day of the Brexit Referendum result in 2016 when thousands gathered outside Westminster.
Since then we have had numerous debates in Parliament,and further mass demonstrations both at Westminster and across the UK, we have held mass rallies and demos, disrupted Parliament itself and been campaigning vigorously, but the incumbent Government had steadfastly refused to address the issues raised by both the 1995 and 2011 Pension Acts
Indeed a suggested solution by the Minister for Pensions is that we seek Apprenticeships in our 60s for those who have found themselves made unemployed due to redundancy or unable to continue in onerous roles.
We have used the official channels of complaint for DWP maladministration, and legal challenges but these are still in progress.
We have paid in all our lives, only to lose up to £48000 in lost State Pensions, money which we were reasonably expecting to receive and are reliant on as for many it is their only retirement income.
For 50s born women who have private pensions provisions these equate to roughly one third of those of men our age. This was often not by choice, dependent what was available for us at our workplaces, where many women were given 'Dowries' or couldn't join the scheme if they working were part time.
I see people daily using up their savings, selling or remortgaging their homes to subsidise themselves when they should have been in receipt of their Pensions. Changes to the Widows Pension from the legislation leave many destitute.
We appreciate the Cross Party support we have had to date but this needs a speedy resolution from the next Parliament so that the 3,8 million women affected get justice.
Please help me further highlight this issue in the upcoming General Election and to stand as an 'apprentice' MP by donating to my Campaign expenses.
I hope to show how ludicrous such 'Westminster Bubble' Statements are and how out of touch they can be with the lived experience of people who have worked and contributed all their lives only to be let down in their later years.
The ripple effect on society of State Pension Age is far reaching in terms of releasing jobs, increasing productivity, keeping economy moving and the high street alive, reducing strains on the overburdened social care system and improving Healthy Life expectancy just for starters. We do not see this as a 'benefit' but something we paid our dues for and expected to receive with dignity.
A State Pension should be a badge of honour recognising our contribution to Society and not be treated as an easy cash source to pay down the national debt.
It's not a case of can we afford to pay a State Pension -it's a case of can we as a society afford not to.
Delaying State pensions is a blunt instrument to save money, Life expectancy has actually stalled or reversed in many regions.
Let's get a Parliamentary Solution towards a system fit for purpose, protecting the State Pension and making it available at an age where people will live to enjoy it.
Whatever you can give will be gratefully received.
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