Shelagh Simmons and Carolyne Jacobs, joint co-ordinators of the Solent WASPI group, share this latest news. Ed
Members of WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) have been calling on their local general election candidates to support their campaign.
Groups around the country, including the Solent WASPI Supporters’ Group, have invited candidates from all constituencies and parties to sign the WASPI Pledge that, if elected:
“I pledge to support WASPI and to work in Parliament to find a solution for the women affected.”
116,000 Solent women and their families affected
3.5 million women nationally have been adversely affected by changes to the state pension age in 1995 and 2011. In Hampshire, this affects around 116,000 women and their families, some of whom are suffering severe financial hardship as a result.
WASPI is campaigning for transitional or compensation payments for these women who were born in the 1950s.
Friday, 26th May 2017 was the WASPI National Day of Local Action; more than 140 WASPI groups around the country took part. The Solent Group held an awareness raising event in Romsey town centre from 11.00am-2.30pm. They began with a minute’s silence to remember all those affected by the Manchester atrocity on Monday, 22nd May.
Positive and supportive feedback
The group set up a stand in the Cornmarket with posters, flyers, Solent WASPI information cards and banners of various sizes. In addition, small groups walked around the town talking to residents about the campaign and handing out flyers.
The group’s joint coordinators, Carolyne Jacobs and Shelagh Simmons, said:
“We were very pleased with the response; people were positive and supportive. Many people stopped to find out more and take flyers and cards.”
“We still find women who are totally unaware that the state pension age is no longer 60 and we met some on Friday in Romsey. WASPI agrees with the equalisation of state pension age but we take issue with the mismanagement of the process, which has caused great distress and hardship.”
Forced to sell homes
They pointed out that some women have been forced to sell their homes. Some have had to try to re-join the workplace, but unfortunately without much success as it is often very difficult to find a job in your sixties. Women who are on their own for whatever reason are particularly hard hit. For example, divorce settlements were often calculated on a state pension age of 60.
Consequently, many divorced women – particularly if they do not have an occupational pension – are finding it difficult to make ends meet.
Women with health issues
The SPA changes have had a major impact on women who are ill or suffering from long term health issues. Wendy, a Romsey resident, has recently had to cope with the stress of having cancer. She has no occupational pension so, in addition to the stress of her illness, she is being forced to sell her home.
This is because she has no other income and her state pension age has been raised not once, but twice. Wendy says what has happened to her has been devastating.
Carolyne and Shelagh stated,
“We had hoped that Conservative candidate, Caroline Nokes – who was Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions in the last Government – would be sympathetic to our cause but sadly she simply repeats the Government line. It is a line that is disingenuous and fails to deal with the issues.
“We hope that our presence in Romsey has let the 5,600 women in this constituency who have been hit by these changes know that someone is on their side.”
Solent WASPI Roll of Honour
During the day the Solent group unveiled a Solent WASPI Roll of Honour with the names of 31 candidates in the region who have signed the WASPI Pledge to date.
Candidate Pledges continue to arrive, the most recent being Eleanor Bell (Liberal Democrat, Southampton Test), Rosie Pearce (Green, Southampton Test) and Matthew Winnington (Liberal Democrat, Fareham).
3.5 million women have lost out
The event concluded with Solent WASPI members gathering around Palmerston’s statue in Market Place. Carolyne and Shelagh said:
“3.5 million women have lost out, unfairly, because of the maladministration of pension changes introduced by successive governments. Our votes could significantly impact the election results, and we hope that our event in Romsey today will ensure that our local general election candidates here and all around our region will sit up and take notice.”
Solent WASPI Supporters’ Group ended the National Day of Local Action tweeting their thanks to all the general election candidates who have pledged their support.