Women have 'rug pulled out' from under them by state pension age changes

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Lynn Nicholls from the Norfolk Broads PAIN (Pension Action in Norfolk) Pension Group spoke exclusively to Express.co.uk and voiced her concerns about the continuing problems facing women who have been made to wait longer than they expected to retire.

Ms Nicholls said she feels women have had the “rug pulled out” from under them due to the state pension age changes, leaving their retirement plans in tatters.

She said: “I compare it to an insurance policy. You take out this insurance policy thinking in years to come, this is going to mature. And then the insurance company say ‘you’re going to have to wait another six years’. That’s what’s happened to us.

“We’ve had the rug pulled out from under us and we didn’t get the notice it was going to happen, so we haven’t had time to change our plans. I had a year’s notice that I was not going to get my pension at 60, it was going to be 65 and two months. It’s no time at all to replan everything.

“The majority of us have had to work an extra six years, which is quite a long time. The first rise in 1995 took it to an extra three years, which would’ve been more acceptable. But then the 2011 act came along so we are now waiting an extra six years on top of what we expected when we started work.”

Women have 'rug pulled out' from under them by state pension age changes
© GETTY state pension age changes women campaign

Ms Nicholls expressed her disappointment with the lack of support women have received from the Government on these issues, with MPs failing to respond to their communications. She believes that 54,000 women are affected in Norfolk alone.

She said: “Each of our MPs has got approximately 5,000 or 6,000 constituents affected, but they’re no support at all. We contact them and we’re lucky to get a reply. They fob us off with excuses and it is quite disheartening.

“Our generation are being asked to bear the burden of changes and isn’t just state pension age changes, it’s other things as well. The state pension change from old to new in 2016. So, we came into that as well.

“The National Insurance Contributions you need to actually get a pension changed from 40, down to 30, and backup to 35 all within our lifetime. We’re not losing out on just the income from state pension, but also the winter fuel allowance, the Christmas bonus, and the bus pass for quite a lot of women throughout the country.”

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She also explained how women who live on their own can find these issues even more difficult to manage without the support of a partner. However, even those with a significant other can feel like a burden.

On women who are trying to cope with state pension age problems alone, Ms Nicholls said: “They are struggling to carry on working. It’s not too bad if you’ve got a husband to support you. I was lucky, I could still finish work at 60, but I’m still having to rely on my husband to support me. That’s not a nice feeling when you should have your own income coming in.”

She added: “A lot of us have got elderly parents we’re still caring for, and it’s doubly hard if you’re still working as well.”

Another problem facing pensioners is the backlog which has meant many people reaching state pension age for the first time have been made to wait for their first payment. Ms Nicholls said this is only exacerbating the woes of women who have been made to wait longer to retire.

She said: “The other big thing that’s rearing its head now is that ladies have waited six years, which is a hard slog, then they’re putting in their paperwork for their pension and finding it hasn’t gone in the bank. Once again it’s us that bears the brunt and we just have to kind of grin and bear it”

Women have 'rug pulled out' from under them by state pension age changes
© Express what is state pension

Ms Nicholls vowed that the group will continue to put pressure on the Government in an attempt to move things forward and reach a resolution.

She said: “The question we’re asking now is, how much longer have we got to wait? I started my complaint in 2016 and all these years later, we are no further forward.

“Meanwhile, there are ladies dying who are never going to see their pension, there are ladies struggling, we’re now going into another winter, and there’s still no answers for us. We want to keep the pressure up.”

She called for a more flexible state pension age which would allow people to take their pension earlier at a lower amount, as well as a shakeup to the benefits system for older people.

Ms Nicholls called for “a more flexible approach” when it comes to the state pension age.

Women have 'rug pulled out' from under them by state pension age changes
© GETTY state pension age changes women campaign

She said: “If you want to take it a bit earlier, it’s going to be at a reduced rate because you haven’t paid as much, but that would be an option for a lot of people, as they get older.

“We would also like a bit more leniency in the care in the benefit system. Because if a lot of our women haven’t got their state pension, they’re then forced to sign on to benefits, which is just so humiliating for somebody in their 60s

Ms Nicholls explained one of the members of the group has been on benefits for around five years because she could not get a job and has to travel a long way to sign on at the Job Centre every two weeks, having to pay bus fare out of her benefits.

She said: “That has a knock-on effect because we haven’t got a bus pass. I think they need to do things a bit differently for are older people having to sign on, so they don’t have to jump through so many hoops.”

A DWP spokesperson said: “The Government decided over 25 years ago that it was going to make the state pension age the same for men and women as a long-overdue move towards gender equality.

“Raising state pension age in line with life expectancy changes has been the policy of successive administrations over many years.”

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