Shelagh shares this latest news on behalf of Solent WASPI. Ed
On Monday 14th January, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) landed another punch on 1950s women. These are the women waiting up to an extra six years for their State Pension – at a potential loss of tens of thousands of pounds – and whose pension rights are being championed by the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaign.
Having already suffered a hammer blow to their retirement plans – with little or no time to make alternative financial and work arrangements – the DWP’s latest announcement of changes to Pension Credit rules means another hit for the poorest among us.
New rules a blow for WASPI womem
Currently, if one partner in a low-income couple is of State Pension Age (SPA), they can claim Pension Credit. But on 14th January – when attention was firmly focused on the next day’s parliamentary Brexit vote – the DWP sneaked in another hit.
With effect from 15th May, BOTH partners will have to be of SPA to qualify. This equates to a loss of up to £7,000 a year for some couples.
Dubbed ‘the toy boy tax’
Put simply, this punishes people for being in mixed-age relationships. While the measure has been crassly dubbed ‘the toy boy tax’, it affects everyone except those with partners of the same age.
It pushes them onto a much lower benefit, Universal Credit, which was never intended for those of pensionable age. And while this will not affect those currently in receipt of the benefit, it will hit those whose claims are interrupted and will subsequently be subject to the new rules.
Age UK: Anyone hit by ‘double whammy’ entitled to feel aggrieved
Age UK’s Director, Caroline Abrahams, points out that Pension Credit,
“Is the single most important poverty alleviation mechanism for older people that we have in this country.”
She warns that pensioner poverty is likely to increase as a result. And she makes special mention of WASPI women:
“… It is also worth considering that many who will be caught by the policy change are likely to be women born in the 1950s – precisely the group who have been impacted by other government decisions to raise the state pension age – the ‘WASPI generation’. Anyone hit by this ‘double whammy’ will be entitled to feel especially aggrieved.”
Feel aggrieved? Yes, we certainly do. And it is in fact a ‘triple whammy’ since many of us have had not one SPA rise, but two.
Simmons: Lifetime of unequal pay and pension opportunities
Solent WASPI’s Coordinator, Shelagh Simmons, said:
“The state pension age increases were allegedly to remove the anomaly of women retiring earlier than men. The Pension Credit change is allegedly to remove the anomaly of someone below SPA receiving an inappropriate benefit.
“If only the Government had paid such attention to the other lifetime anomalies WASPI women have faced – for example, unequal pay and pension opportunities – before inflicting further financial damage on us, we might have believed it was all in the interests of equality. But it seems a perceived anomaly is only to be corrected if it saves money.”
Simmons: Trapped in the twilight zone
“Trapped in the twilight zone between 60 (the age we expected to get our state pensions) and 66/67, and often unable to work or claim any form of support, some of us are told by the DWP that our husbands will have to “keep” us.
“For single women, of course, there is no such option. And women in same-sex relationships have been doubly impacted. The truth is that all women born in the 1950s have been shabbily treated because of our date of birth. Where is the equality, and dignity, in that?”
Another smash and grab raid
The DWP quaintly called this latest assault on 1950s women and their families a “Pensions Update”. But Solent WASPI believes it is another smash and grab raid on those already hit by the injustice of SPA increases appallingly communicated and poorly implemented.
The Work and Pensions Committee has written to the Government amid concerns about the impact of the Pension Credit changes. Age UK has urged the Government to withdraw them. Solent WASPI strongly urges them to do so too.
Your right to Pension Credit
A significant number of eligible people don’t claim the Pension Credit they’re entitled to.
You can get advice from their local Age UK or Citizens’ Advice branch. Solent WASPI urges people to act now in case they miss out.
Image: © WASPI Campaign