By Diane Cooke
Over 20 years ago, the government decided to require millions of older people in the future to remain in the workforce for longer because the ageing population was increasing which was costing the government dear in pensions.
At the same time, it also decided to equalise the state pension age for men and women. Time was allowed for people to adjust and nobody born before 1950 was affected.
This meant men and women born in the 1950s were to be the first generation to have access to state pensions at the same age. For some, that age would be at above 65.
The originally established timetable to implement this changed in 2011, when it was decided to accelerate the planned increases to the new common pension age.
For many 1950s-born women already affected by two increases to their expected state pension age, this policy acceleration caused huge unease.
That general sense of unease resulted in the Women Against State Pension Inequality protest movement, which called for a Parliamentary re-think of the policies and the social and financial effects they had had on so many people – many of whom had not been aware of the changes.
WASPI claims that while the 1995 Conservative government's Pension Act included plans to increase the women’s state pension age to 65 – the same as men's – the changes were implemented unfairly, with little or no personal notice.
The group also claimed the changes were implemented faster than promised with the 2011 Pension Act and left women with no time to make alternative plans, leading to devastating consequences.
WASPI was the subject of a debate in December in the House of Commons, with minister for pensions and financial inclusion, Guy Opperman, saying that providing full transitional state pension arrangements to women born in the 1950s would potentially increase inequality.
Mr Opperman said: “Full compensation would represent a cost of over £77bn to the public purse.
“These changes would require new legislation, which could mean an inequality potentially being created between men and women.”
WASPI is campaigning for a 'bridging' pension to provide an income until State Pension Age - not means-tested - and with recompense for losses for those women who have already reached their SPA.
So far, 12 debates have been held in Parliament on the issue, plus two SNP motioned debates, but there is no resolution in sight which is why campaigners are taking it to the High Court.