Most people will be aware of the campaign by women born in the 1950s, known to many as ‘WASPI’, involving 3.6 million women who have been forced to wait an extra six years for a pension they were told at the beginning of their working lives, would be theirs at the age of 60.

Organiser, Pembrokeshire & Carmarthen West 1950s WASPI Women of Wales Jackie Gilderdale, says they have been joined by more women since the campaign began, because “instead of learning by their mistakes and taking steps to inform the next generation born in the 1960s, this Government simply treated these women with the same contempt and left them to also ‘find out for themselves’!”

“Little or no notice was given to any of the women affected,” she added.

“What was set in place in preparation for the six-year increase in SPA for the women born in the 1950s and then those born in the 1960s? Not even the courtesy of an official written notification for the majority and for a small percentage a letter sent between 18 months and three years before their expected SPA. Dismissed, unimportant irrelevant, springs to mind!”

You may be aware that since the campaign began it has had a failed Judicial Review with no further right to appeal. Barrister Sir James Eadie for the DWP stated: “The government have no legal responsibility to inform anyone of legislative changes that could affect them”. The conclusion of a three-stage investigation by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman is due for release in the next couple of months.

1950s and 1960s women are travelling again from all parts of the UK to the same destination as their previous rallies: Parliament square. In Jackie’s words, this is “to remind the establishment that we are not going away and will continue to insist they look at our case with a view to compensate the women still left, trying to cope with the broken lives it has caused.”

“Over 220,000 1950s women have now passed away during this campaign including many from our local group in Pembrokeshire and Carmarthen West,” says Jackie. “These women paid into a system designed to pay them back at an agreed time, just as an insurance policy might. But the difference with State Pension is that there are people in government who are unscrupulous enough to rescind on a contract simply to save money. That money was rightfully due to be returned as the pension it was designed to be, but has been taken and used for other things - things deemed more important than those who in good faith placed it in to the National Insurance Fund and those who became eligible to have it back.”

Jackie adds: “Women who were lucky enough to have their own homes have been forced to sell in order to feed themselves; others are sofa surfing as they could no longer afford to keep a roof over their heads and many now use foodbanks. Savings have depleted and disappeared; life plans devastated and some are known to have even taken their own lives because they simply could not cope.

“We have asked the APPG to intervene in relation to the PHSO, before they make their final decision, as there have been grave concerns over the two years identified by the Ombudsman, which we feel is discriminatory and incorrect and urged them to take note of what is contained within the following blog:

“The UK Government are intent on raising the SPA again, for which there is no evidence. Life expectancy has been static for quite some time and now in decline. Thus, it appears that this Government are repeating what George Osbourne did to the 1950s women and targeting those of pension age, as part of their austerity policies to save money quickly. A study carried out by Kings Fund London (England only) as an example of what’s happening across the UK shows we are not living longer.

“We know from freedom of information requests that the NI Fund, which is in place to support the payment of the state pension, has been pilfered by this Government and a sizeable amount used to offset the national debt. The fiscal mismanagement of this Government is not the fault of 1950s and 1960s women and for decades we’ve worked hard, paid our dues, with an agreement to receive our state pension at 60 years of age.

“From the outset of this seven-year campaign, two areas of concern were identified and they were maladministration and direct discrimination. Whilst maladministration has been justified, but not for the whole period; direct discrimination has never been taken forward or discussed by the APPG, the PHSO or otherwise.”

Jackie points out that Hon Dr and former Judge Jocelynne Scutt recently published a 155 page detailed report which clearly evidences how 1950s women suffered from direct discrimination. An excerpt from the report reads:

“The United Kingdom government has an obligation to 1950s-born women arising out of the direct discrimination exercised against them when the State Pension Age at which the pension accrues was raised from 60 years to 65 years.

“The 1950s-born women were specifically targeted as the group that would bear the burden of this transition. They were targeted by reference to the protected characteristics of sex/gender and age. No notice was given to the women and, when the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) eventually did begin notifications this was inadequate, sporadic, disorganised and is recognised as infused with maladministration. This is well-substantiated.

“Yet 1950s-born woman paid into the National Insurance Scheme on the undertaking given by government and the Parliament through the 1940 Act setting the age for women at 60, that the women would receive the State Pension upon their 60° birthday. This undertaking was breached, the breach constituting direct discrimination on the ground/basis of age and sex/gender.

“To right this government and Parliamentary failure (exemplified by the State Pension Act 1995 and subsequent related Acts), 1950s-born women are entitled to recompense in the amount they would and should have been paid at the originally stated date of their 60th birthday. The funds are in the National Insurance Scheme to meet this governmental obligation and there is no good reason for denying this payout to 1950s-born women - a payout which is based on the moneys they paid into the National Insurance Scheme.

“Any proposal to ‘pay off the 1950s-born women with a sum that does not equate to their rightful entitlement is one inconsistent with the Equality Act 2010 and the international obligations of government and Parliament per CEDAW - the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women - signed by the United Kingdom in 1981, ratified by the United Kingdom in 1986, and the United Kingdom signing up to the Optional Protocol in 2004. A failure to acknowledge women’s rights under the Equality Act 2010 is undermining of the domestic law (the Equality Act 2010) and flouts international law (CEDAW).

“No member of government and no member of Parliament should accede to a position where s/he supports a breach of domestic law and ignores or condones ignorance of international law.”

With time running short, we are asking the APPG to lobby the Ombudsman & Government, on behalf of the 3.6 million 1950s women impacted, to ensure that any compensation is fair, justified and legal.

We want everyone to work together to get this final hurdle agreed and stop the suffering of so many 1950s women, who’ve paid into the system, paid their taxes and who expected their state pension at 60.

Both Pembrokeshire MPs, Stephen Crabb and Simon Hart have been contacted and invited to meet their constituents who’ve been impacted and other 1950s women, outside Westminster on March 8. Many MPs, representatives from the House of Lords, the media have already agreed to be there and the list continues to grow.

The rally on March 8 aptly coincides with International Women’s Day.