On the 16th November 2023, I put a motion to IW Full Council to support the WASPI campaign to get justice for women born in the 1950s , see my speech below. The IW Council unanimously supported the motion. Cllr Jordan, Leader of the IW Council is writing to DWP and Bob Seeley MP, requesting this social injustice is resolved as outlined by Ombudsman.
Cllr Lilley – Motion Speech – 15th September 2023
Solent Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) is part of the national and international WASPI Campaign. They approached me to submit this motion.
They represent WASPI women in the Solent area, including Isle of Wight, and some of the Isle of Wight members are in the gallery. I am speaking on their behalf. There are over 11,000 plus women born in the 1950s and they are the group of residents faced with the reality of this injustice. They have been campaigning for State Pension justice since 2015.
In 2016, IW Council was one of the first Council’s to pass a motion supporting this campaign for justice and it was proposed by Cllr Geoff Brodie. Seven years on, they are still fighting to be heard by the Government and fighting for fair treatment. It is a sad fact that our residents along with all women across the UK are still awaiting for justice, so it is right and proper IW Council revisits this issue and reconfirms its support. We cannot allow this injustice to be brushed under the carpet.
All of us here will be related to a woman who was born in the 1950s. All of us will speak to a woman daily that was born in the 1950s. They are not invisible they are real and need our support.
As part of their campaigning strategy, many of them lodged complaints of Maladministration against the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). In July 2021, they were vindicated by a Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) finding that Maladministration had occurred in the way the DWP failed to inform them they would have to wait up to a further 6 years for their State Pension. The Ombudsman encouraged the Government to be proactive in resolving this issue, but still they wait.
Since our campaign started in 2015, more than 248,000 1950s-born women have died without seeing justice. Nationally, one WASPI woman dies every thirteen minutes waiting for compensation. That is shocking, sad, and totally avoidable.
Solent Waspi and IW women including residents in my ward have given numerous examples of hardship endured by local WASPI women struggling to cope with thousands of pounds shortfall in expected State Pension payments. They recall the woman in poor health with anguish etched on her face as she wondered how she would cope with another 6 years in her physically demanding cleaning job. Another, widowed in her early fifties, had expected to retire at 60. She planned accordingly, thinking she would be able to just about manage. Forced to downsize, she had to return to work in a care home to make ends meet. She had not anticipated the current Cost of Living Crisis, which has brought new fear and anxiety. One of the Waspi women suffered severe mental health consequences after finding out by chance that she would have to wait another 6 years for her State Pension. All her retirement plans were ruined, and she had to adjust to a very different future from the one she had anticipated. Another was living on Universal Credit and could not afford the bus fare to one of the local events. She explained the humiliation of having to comply with the UC requirement to keep applying for jobs that she knew – as a woman in her mid-sixties nearing pension age – she had no chance of getting. She said the constant rejections were soul-destroying.
Added to individual examples like these are the impacts on our local community in the loss of skills available to the voluntary sector and support to families through informal care arrangements (older relatives and grandchildren). The value to this Island of our generation’s contribution in unpaid work is enormous. Moreover, there is an established link between poverty and ill-health which has serious consequences for primary care and hospital services, including here on the Isle of Wight.
All this is against a backdrop of a Gender Pensions Gap that the Government predicts will not close until 2040, at the earliest. It is a gap created by unequal pay and private pension opportunities. These were just two of the obstacles to a financially secure retirement we have faced throughout their working lives. And it is a gap evidenced by far more women than men relying on the State Pension for their retirement income.
I urge you to support this motion and stand with Island women, our wives, our sisters, our mothers, our grandmothers, our great grandmothers, our friends who were born the 1950s and experienced proven injustice and discrimination.