Hartlepool councillor says Minister ‘missed the point’ over Waspi changes

WASPI Supporters outside Westminster
WASPI Supporters outside Westminster

A Hartlepool councillor says a Government minister “missed the point” after the local authority lobbied Whitehall over changes to women’s pensions.

Councillor Brenda Harrison, who represents De Bruce ward, led calls for Hartlepool Borough Council to back the national Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaign.

Coun Harrison previously said Government changes to raise the pension age of women in line with that of men will leave more than 5,000 Hartlepool women born in the 1950s thousands of pounds worse off.

A motion agreed by the full council in October saw the Mayor, Councillor Paul Beck, write to the Department for Work and Pensions calling on the Government to recognise the need for a bridging pension for women affected, and compensation for those at risk of losing out.

A reply from Guy Opperman, Minister for Pensions and Financial Inclusion, was considered by a meeting of the full council.

In the letter Mr Opperham said it will address long-standing inequality between men’s and women’s pension ages.

The 2011 Pensions Act brought forward the increase in the state pension age to 66 by five and a half years.

Women born between December 1953 and 1954 face up to 18 months extra to wait as a result.

Mr Opperham said: “If state pension ages had not been equalised, women would be spending over 40 per cent of their adult life in retirement and this proportion would be continuing to rise. The 2010 and 2015 Government made the decision to bring in changes to the state pension age following extensive debates in both Houses of Parliament.”

But Coun Harrison said: “The minister has completely missed the point.

“The issue was the way it is being done and fact that a lot of women in their fifties and into their sixties have lost out by so much that it has actually caused more financial pressures for them. It’s another nail in the coffin as far as this Government is concerned on working people.”