Pension court ruling 'terrible blow’ for thousands of High Peak women

A WASPI protest outside the Houses of Parliament in central London earlier this year. Photo: ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images.
A WASPI protest outside the Houses of Parliament in central London earlier this year. Photo: ISABEL INFANTES/AFP/Getty Images.

Thousands of High Peak women could be affected by a High Court ruling rejecting a challenge against controversial changes to the state pension age.

Nearly four million women born between April 6, 1950, and April 5, 1960, have been affected by the changes, made by successive governments, to raise the state pension age for women from 60 to 66.

Approximately 6,000 in High Peak were born within that period, according to the latest population estimates.

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And at least 60 per cent of them are yet to hit their state pension age, meaning they will still not be in receipt of a state pension.

Campaign group Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) argues the changes have caused financial hardship for hundreds of thousands of women, who may struggle to find suitable employment.

Many were not allowed to join private company pension schemes until the 1990s, it said, while others are carers or in poor health.

Two women took the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to the High Court with the support of campaign group Backto60. They argued that raising the pension age had unlawfully discriminated against them on the grounds of age and sex, and that they were not given adequate notice of the changes.

But High Court judges Lord Justice Irwin and Mrs Justice Whipple dismissed the claim “on all grounds”.

In their ruling, the judges stated: “There was no direct discrimination on grounds of sex, because this legislation does not treat women less favourably than men in law.

“Rather, it equalises a historic asymmetry between men and women and thereby corrects historic direct discrimination against men.”

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said the ruling was “a terrible blow”, adding: “The decision to hike the state pension age with next to no notice didn’t just throw their retirement plans up in the air, it also left many women on lower incomes really struggling to make ends meet.”

A spokesperson for the WASPI group in North Derbyshire said: “The expectations of some women were very high and there will be considerable disappointment about the outcome that the case is lost.

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“WASPI have always considered our ask to be reasonable and achievable. We will continue to campaign both to seek genuine cross-party support in Westminster, and to seek justice via the complaints of maladministration process.”

Welcoming the judgement, a DWP spokesperson said: “It has always been our view that the changes we made to women’s state pension age were entirely lawful and did not discriminate on any grounds. The court decided that arguments the claimants were not given adequate notice of changes to the state pension age could not be upheld.”