Women from Dumfries and Galloway have united to fight for a fairer deal on women’s pensions.
The women are part the national campaign group Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI), which aims to achieve some movement from the Government over the transitional pension arrangements for women born in the 1950’s.
Changes to the state pension were introduced by the coalition government in the 2007 Pensions Act with the intention of equalising the state pension age for both men and women from 65 to 66 between the years 2024 and 2026.
The 2007 Act gave all affected women 17 years notice of this change but in 2011, the government accelerated pension age equalisation for women, meaning that those affected now had as little as 5 years to adjust life plans to acclimate this change.
The changes mean that hundreds of thousands of women who had expected to receive their pension at 60, will now have to wait until they are 66.
Lindsay McCormick who started the Dumfries and Galloway’s WASPI Facebook group said: “The group was formed following an inspirational talk from Mhairi Black MP who said the best way to achieve change was to get as many women as possible to join together and petition the government to reconsider their policy.
“We have had lots of support from our local politicians too, especially Joan McAlpine and Richard Arkless. Our group has grown to over 110 members and our meetings are regularly attended by local women.
“Last week we enjoyed taking part in this years Guid Nychburris parade and we are planning to have a presence in Dumfries High Street later this month that will to coincide with the demonstration in London.”
Lindsay went on to explain that on 29th June a WASPI demonstration will take place outside the Houses of Parliament. This date was chosen as it coincides with the 1909 anniversary of Emmeline Pankhurst marching to Parliament with hundreds of Suffragettes, to present a petition to Prime Minister Asquith. As part of the peaceful demonstration, a Mass Choir of 200 women – joined by MPs – will gather to sing the WASPI anthem.
Two representatives from the Dumfries and Galloway WASPI group will be attending the London event and local MP Richard Arkless will be there to accompany them.
Mr Arkless said: “I am very much looking forward to welcoming Dumfries and Galloway WASPI members to London and I will be delighted to support them in the demonstration.
“Women born in the 1950s have been disproportionally affected by the pension changes and they are right to protest - it must be remembered that a pension is not a benefit, it is an earned entitlement.
“Through making NI contributions all their working lives these women have entered into a contract with the government but that contract has been suddenly changed at short notice and to the extreme detriment of these women.”
Lindsay McCormick added: “On the 29th in Dumfries, while the protest is in full swing in London, the WASPI women will be handing out leaflets in Dumfries High Street and asking people to sign our paper petition.
“If you would like to join our group we would love to have you. You don’t have to be directly affected - these pension changes have a huge impact on the lives of whole family groups so everyone is welcome to join and support the WASPI women. The more voices that are raised together, the more chance we have of being heard.”
To find out more about WASPI, please email Lindsay at firstname.lastname@example.org