A CAMPAIGN group for women born in the 1950s, whose state pension age has increased from 60-65, lost an appeal against a decision to deny them compensation for lost pension income.
Backto60 brought two test cases to the High Court last year when those cases were lost the group appealed. The Court of Appeal released its judgement rejecting the appeal on Monday, September 14.
The group’s campaign calls for a reinstatement of the age of 60 for women’s state pensions and compensation of the pension women have missed out on.
The Court found making the state pension age the same for men and women did not constitute unlawful discrimination.
WASPI CAMPAIGN UNCHANGED
The case’s failure will not affect the far better known and more widely-supported Women Against State Pensions Injustice (WASPI) campaign.
WASPI has long campaigned on the issues regarding the increase in the state pension age for women. They argue that setting aside any claim of discrimination, the UK Government failed in its duty to inform affected women adequately of the changes to the state pension age and the effect those changes would have on their pensions.
A statement issued by WASPI after the Backto60 legal challenge failed said: “Many women will be disappointed today at the judgement from the High Court.
“Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) will continue to campaign for what we believe is achievable and affordable. Compensation for women who have been unfairly disadvantaged with a rapid increase to their State Pension age (SPa).
“WASPI is not opposed to the equalisation of the SPa with men but it was done without adequate notice, leaving no time to make alternative arrangements. Women were informed directly some 14 years after the SPa was first changed, many only given 18 months’ notice, of up to a six-year increase, many others were not informed at all. This left their retirement plans shattered.
“The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman is currently considering six sample cases of maladministration out of the thousands of complaints made to the DWP by WASPI women.”
Former Conservative Pensions Minister, Baroness Roz Altmann, said: “When Pensions Minister, I saw copies of letters written by the Government to millions of these women in 2003 and 2004 about their State Pension, which failed to highlight that their pension would not be paid at age 60. These official letters failed to highlight that these women’s pension would not start being paid at age 60. It merely informed them what State Pension they might receive when they reached State Pension Age, but they did not tell them what that age would be!
“Receiving a letter from the Pensions Department about their State Pension, which did not urge them to check what their State Pension Age would be, may have lulled them into a false sense of security that they would receive it from age 60.
“This looks like maladministration.”
During the election campaign last year, Boris Johnson pledged to place ‘fresh eyes’ on the issue and said he felt sympathetic to the WASPI campaigners. Asked on Tuesday about the progress of those promised considerations, he failed to answer.
THE APPEAL ISSUE
The main issue in the appeal was whether the changes to the state pension age brought in by Parliament from 1995 onwards, unlawfully discriminated against women. Backto60 argued, amongst other things, women born in the 1950s were less likely to have contributed to the state pension scheme or were disproportionately in lower-paid jobs than men.
The Pensions Act 1995 provided that a woman born before 6 April 1950 would still receive her state pension at age 60 but a woman born after that date would receive her pension on a specified date when she was aged between 60 and 65, depending on her date of birth. The Pensions Acts 2007, 2011 and 2014 then accelerated the move to age 65 as the state pension age for women and raised the state pension age for some men and women to 66, 67 or 68 depending on their date of birth.
Successive UK Governments made changes to address the massively-rising cost of state pensions.
When the state pension age was originally set, both pension ages were fixed at 65. When revised in 1940, women’s pension age was dropped to 60. At the time those ages were fixed, life expectancy meant the state pension was likely to be paid out for only a few years after retirement age. The lower age was fixed at 60 for women to reflect their then-dependence on a single male breadwinner in the family and the prevailing age difference between married couples.
In the post-war period, life expectancy increased, first gradually and then with increasing speed.
The boom in average life expectancy means the state pension is the largest single drain on the welfare budget – taking £111bn of it in the year 2018-19 (DWP figures). In comparison, payments for unemployment benefits totalled £2bn.
The UK Defence budget is around £28bn
In normal circumstances, the claims brought to the Court would have been barred due to the delay in bringing them. Time was extended to bring the claims. The question of the delay was, however, relevant only to the discretion whether to grant relief if unlawful discrimination was proved.
The long delay in bringing the claims made it impossible to fashion any practical remedy. The Court noted unchallenged expert evidence that the cost of reinstating pensions would exceed £200bn – more than seven times the total defence budget and around the same as the whole of the health and education budgets combined (Figures Office of Budget Responsibility).
Rapper who bombed wrong house jailed for almost 10 years
A WELSH rapper who accidentley ‘bombed’ a wrong house following a feud with a rival has been labelled ‘pathetic’ and ‘childish’ by a judge before sending them to prison.
Appearing at Swansea Crown Court on Monday (Jun 13), Michael Athernought was sentenced to almost 10 years in prison.
The court heard how Athernought, 25 of Tontine Street, Swansea, had thrown a petrol bomb at a house he believed belonged to a fellow rapper Ricky Williams following a feud between the two.
However, the defendant bombed the house of a woman and her teenage son.
The incident happened at a residential property on Clyndu Street, Morriston at around 3am on November 16 of last year.
The woman awoke to a fire alarm going off and neighbours banging her front door.
L;uckily for Helen Davies and her son, neighbours had managed to break her door down and get the pair to safety.
The court heard how Athernought had posted a video directed at Mr Williams where threats were made to ‘burn your house to the ground’ and ‘war means war’.
Athernought was arrested the same day and officers from South Wales Police found a jerrycan of petrol and a towel with pieces missing.
Whilst sentencing, Judge Paul Thomas QC, said: “A more pathetic, childish reason for acting as you did is frankly quite difficult to imagine.
“Instead of acting as a grown-up you decided, because you think of yourself as some sort of pseudo-gangster, to make a video.
“In that video you made threats to burn his house down. It was as graphically threatening as it was pathetically childish.
“In actual fact, due to your incompetence, you got the wrong house.
“Obviously, you seem to think that you can get away with what you want, because you’re in some way above all of that, being, of course, an important rapper.”
Alternought was given an extended sentence of nine years and nine months.
The defendant will serve four years and six months in prison. The remainder of the sentence will be served on licence.
Trimsaran go top after beating Bynea
TRIMSARAN moved to the top of League 3 West B on Saturday (Jan 8) as they beat Bynea 39-5.
It was the only game to be played in the Division as others battled covid-19 cases and waterlogged pitches following overnight rain.
Lee Bates had scored two tries in Trimsaran’s last game before Christmas and he carried on his good form with a hat trick of tries on Saturday.
Iwan Green and Chris Lacey also went over for the home side who were also awarded a penalty try.
There were three conversions and a penalty from Corey Phillips as Trimsaran secured a bonus point win.
Trim now sit top of the table, unbeaten in their opening four games in the league, and they are now level on points with second placed Tumble who have played a game more.
On Saturday, January 15, Trimsaran travel to Tumble while Bynea will look to get back to winning ways when they host New Dock Stars.
PHOTO by Darren Harries
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