Legal challenge to women's state pension age changes fails

Thousands of Lancashire women hoping that a Court of Appeal challenge against the Government over controversial changes to the state pension age would succeed had their hopes dashed today.

Tuesday, 15th September 2020, 4:34 pm
Campaigners claim women have been left massively out of pocket by the rapid rise in the state pension age

Nearly four million women born in the 1950s have been affected by reforms introduced by successive governments to ensure “pension age equalisation”, which have raised the state pension age for this group from 60 to 66.

Julie Delve, 62, and Karen Glynn, 63 – supported by campaign group BackTo60 – brought a Court of Appeal challenge over the changes after losing a landmark High Court fight against the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) last year.

The women argued that raising their pension age unlawfully discriminated against them on the grounds of age and sex, and that they were not given adequate notice of the changes.

But in a judgment published on Tuesday, Master of the Rolls Sir Terence Etherton, Lord Justice Underhill and Lady Justice Rose unanimously dismissed the women’s claim.

They found that introducing the same state pension age for men and women did not amount to unlawful discrimination under EU or human rights laws.

As part of their ruling, the senior justices said that “despite the sympathy that we, like the members of the Divisional Court (High Court), feel for the appellants and other women in their position, we are satisfied that this is not a case where the court can interfere with the decisions taken through the Parliamentary process”.

They said that “in the light of the extensive evidence” put forward by the Government, they agreed with the High Court’s assessment that “it is impossible to say that the Government’s decision to strike the balance where it did between the need to put state pension provision on a sustainable footing and the recognition of the hardship that could result for those affected by the changes was manifestly without reasonable foundation (MWRF)”.

The WASPI women's campaign group described the ruling as a "kick in the teeth" for women who had been unfairly treated, and said it would examine whether there were grounds for appeal.

Chorley WASPI chair Chrissie Fuller said: "Obviously, this is a very disappointing result for the millions of women who were hoping for a verdict of discrimination. Many more women will now die before receiving their pensions and there will be some who will simply give up the fight.

"Whilst this judgement is disheartening, Waspi2018 will continue to fight on via Parliamentary process and rallying the MPs who have offered their support for our cause.

"Waspi2018 are still waiting to study the judgement in full and will make further comment once they have been able to read and understand it.

"We will not give up!"

Unison assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said: “For a generation of women, this is nothing short of a disaster.

“Raising the state pension age with next to no notice has had a calamitous effect on their retirement plans.

“Those on lower incomes have been left in dire straits, struggling to make ends meet with precious little support from the Government.

“It’s now time MPs intervened to give them the financial help many so desperately need.”