Rona Mackay, MSP for Strathkelvin and Bearsden, spoke at the State Pension Inequality debate in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, February 2.
“First of all, I thank Sandra White for her extensive campaigning on behalf of the WASPI campaign group and for securing the debate.
“As Sandra White said, the Conservative Westminster Government increased women’s retirement age to 65 in 1995 and to 66 in 2011. The UK Government has shamefully admitted that the first time it wrote to women to inform them of the changes was between April 2009 and March 2011—more than 15 years after the Pensions Act 1995. That disgraceful failure has destroyed the retirement plans of thousands of women who were born in the 1950s, leaving them with little time to amend plans for the future that they had regarded as safe.
“With only two years’ notice, many women have lost as much as £36,000 of the pension that they would have had had they been able to retire as planned. That might not matter to the people of inherited wealth who make the decisions or to highly paid civil servants with huge pension funds, but for hundreds of thousands of hard-working women in Scotland and throughout the UK it is devastating. It shows just how out of touch this Westminster Government is. In East Dunbartonshire, where my constituency lies, more than 4,000 women are affected. It is nothing short of daylight robbery by the UK Government. As Sandra White said, pensions are not a privilege.
“WASPI agrees with the equalisation of pensions. However, the core of the campaign’s argument is the unfair and unjust way the changes were implemented, as was so articulately highlighted by my Westminster colleague, Mhairi Black, who has waged a valiant fight on behalf of the women affected.
“SNP MPs have raised the issue at least 44 times in the House of Commons, and the party commissioned independent research by Landman Economics, which WASPI describes as
“‘a useful first step in showing the Government that, despite their statements to the contrary, money is available in the National Insurance Fund for 1950s women’s pensions’.
“WASPI has raised awareness of the injustice and championed the cause of thousands of women born in the 1950s who are affected by the lack of notification and the change to their pension status. Although the financial implications can be measured, the emotional implications of the stress of how to make ends meet are immeasurable. Much needs to be done to slow down the increase, allowing women to access their pension and giving them more time to change their retirement plans, and to alleviate pension poverty.
“There are 140 WASPI local groups, more than 30 local and county councils have passed resolutions supporting the campaign and Unison pledges its support for WASPI at a national level. The UK Government needs to move away from its increasingly isolated stance on the issue and recognise the calls from across parties, local authorities and organisations for it to rectify the injustice.
“Hard-working women deserve respect and access to their own money, on which they had planned their future.”