I had a good meeting with WASPI women in London yesterday. (that's Women Against State Pension Inequality' for anyone who still doesn't know!) They are campaigning hard for justice for thousands of women born in the 1950s who had their retirement plans shattered by abrupt changes to the state pension age.
There was a massive turnout of women from across the UK who were determined to make their voices heard on budget day - it also happened to be International Women's Day. Lots of folk who had travelled from Scotland attended a meeting in the parliament with myself and many other SNP MPs, including our Pensions spokesperson Ian Blackford and Mhairi Black who sits on the Pensions Committee. There was a lot of understandable frustration expressed about how the Tory Government were handling the issue. Amongst the people I met was Edinburgh North and Leith constituent Anne Houghton (pictured below) who told me about her experiences.
The SNP strongly support the WASPI campaign. We support the equalisation of state pension ages but not the pace of change and the way it has been so unfairly implemented - with women nearing retirement seeing the goalpost shifted without due warning. As well as raising the matter in chamber regularly (at least 44 times so far), we commissioned independent research which dealt with women affected by the steepest hike and identified a workable, costed solution. From the report's findings we have sought a reversal of the 2011 Pensions Act and the severe increase in pensionable age in the short term. This will delay the increase to retirement at 65 by as much as two and a half years from the current timetable.The cost of this would be £8 billion - a reasonable ask to alleviate a gross injustice being served to women because of the year in which they were born. We'll keep pushing for the findings of the research to be implemented.
The WASPI presence yesterday will certainly have been felt by the Chancellor and the Tory Government, no matter how much they try to avoid the issue. The fight goes on!