WASPI women call for pensions justice with Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas

WASPI campaigners with Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas (centre left). Picture: Alex Shaw

WASPI campaigners with Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas (centre left). Picture: Alex Shaw - Credit: Alex Shaw

Women affected by the increase in the state pension age met Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas today to voice their concerns.

Members of Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) say changes forcing them to work longer before receiving a state pension have left them emotionally and financially drained.

Donning handmade placards and purple sashes, about a dozen campaigners joined the Labour MP for a protest outside his constituency office in Rainham Road South.

Mr Cruddas said about 4,500 women in Barking and Dagenham were affected by the 2011 Pension Act, which raised the age those born in the 1950s could claim their pension.

“Whole groups of women, amounting to over two million across the country, they’ve had the goalposts removed in terms of the effect on their pensions — without any notification,” the 56-year-old told the Post.

“There’s a lot of anger out in the community and we’ve been consistently trying to raise it with the government.”

The all-party parliamentary group (APPG) formed on the issue is producing a report, based on a survey of women’s groups including WASPI.

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While campaigners call for compensation for their shattered retirement plans, protest organiser Eileen Miles says the group does not want to bring the pension age for women back down to 60, but raise awareness of the “dreadful” way reforms were implemented.

“In 2013, when I got the statement, my mother died — she had dementia — I got made redundant, and then got the final bombshell that I wasn’t getting my pension until I was 66,” said the 62-year-old from Church Street, Dagenham.

“I’m severely disabled, I’ve got a blue badge and I work part-time; because I have to.

“I’ve used up all my savings, which I didn’t want to because I didn’t want to be on benefits. I wanted to give myself a little cushion so I didn’t have to ask anybody for anything.”

“We didn’t even get informed,” agreed Christine Brown.

The 62-year-old from Broad Street, currently caring for a seriously ill husband with stage 4 lung cancer, said her retirement plans had come shuddering to a halt “in a big way”.

The government says it has allocated £1 billion to reduce the impact of the changes, to make sure the pension date for those affected does not move by more than 18 months.