Thousands of women who have been forced to wait longer than expected to receive their state pensions are taking legal action against the government in order to get fair treatment.
Leaders of the WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) campaign have this week announced that, after taking legal advice, they plan to mount a courtroom challenge to the ongoing changes in women’s state pension age.
The group has instructed London-based solicitors Bindmans to act on its behalf against the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
What is WASPI fighting for?
WASPI was set up by a group of women born in the 1950s who expected to retire at age 60, but whose state pension age was pushed back – in some cases to age 66 – by two pieces of government legislation.
The first, enacted in 1995 by John Major’s Conservatives, meant that women’s state pension age would rise from 60 to 65 between 2010 and 2020, to bring it in line with men’s on gender equality grounds.
In 2011, however, the coalition government decided that the age should in fact rise to 66 by the end of this decade (men’s pension age is increasing from 65 to 66 between 2018 and 2020).
WASPI says that the changes were not communicated clearly enough, and that the 2011 law change came too late for many women to plan their finances in order to cope with a further delay in eligibility for the state pension.
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Legal grounds for a challenge
WASPI says that Bindmans has identified two possible grounds for challenging the government’s decisions. Firstly, a judicial review of the legality of the changes to the state pension age is being considered.
And secondly, the campaigners may be able to bring a charge of maladministration against the DWP on the basis that the department failed to communicate the planned changes effectively to those affected.
WASPI will be launching an appeal this week on the crowdfunding platform Crowdjustice in order to raise money from supporters to fund what it expects to be substantial legal fees.
A WASPI spokeswoman said: “The best legal advice is not cheap and a large amount of money needs to be raised. The initial fundraising will allow us to take the best legal advice on a judicial review challenge at the same time as preparing materials to assist with the maladministration complaints.
“Further fundraising will provide the start of funding for us to engage in legal correspondence with the DWP and begin to pursue whichever legal challenge we are advised offers the best prospects for success.”
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