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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Women lose state pension age battle

Campaigners have this morning lost a High Court battle with the UK government over its controversial decision to increase the state pension age for women.

Court rules no age discrimination ©Shutterstock
Court rules no age discrimination ©Shutterstock

The female campaigners, born in the 1950s, said they were not given enough notice of the decision to raise the state pension age from 60 to 65, and were unable to cope.

They argued that the changes – designed to achieve state pension age parity between men and women – discriminate on the grounds of sex and age, but the judges disagreed.

“There was no direct discrimination on grounds of sex because this legislation does not treat women less favourably than men in law,” the court’s decision states.

“Rather it equalises a historic asymmetry between men and women, and thereby corrects historic direct discrimination against men.

“A state can introduce a new legislative scheme based on age. There was, therefore, no discrimination based on age, but even if there was, it could be justified on the facts."

Members of the Backto60 campaign had argued for the restitution of state pensions backdated to the age of 60, potentially costing the government billions of pounds.

The campaign’s website claims that thousands of women have had their retirement plans “annihilated” by the increase to the state pension age, which is set to rise again to 67 by 2028.

It states that the decision was made by “stealth” and under the “false premise” of equality and longevity, with many women having their mental health negatively impacted as a result.

UNISON – the UK’s largest trade union – said that today’s decision was a “terrible blow” for the many women that had suffered from the state pension age increase.

“It seems perverse that the Department for Work and Pensions had no obligation to inform these women of this significant change," UNISON general secretary, Dave Prentis, said.

“The decision to hike the state pension age with next to no notice didn’t just throw their retirement plans up in the air, it also left many women on lower incomes really struggling to make ends meet.

“But despite today’s decision, women born in the 1950s will not give up their campaign to get back what they are rightly owed.”

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