In the past, the state pension age was 60 for women and 65 for men, however plans to equalise the age were made under the Pensions Act 1995, with these changes accelerated by the Pensions Act 2011. Since November 2018, the state pension age has been the same for men and women, however it has been and still is increasing for both sexes.
Amid the plans, a number of campaign groups have been formed, with some calling for a reverse to the state pension age for 50s-born women, while others are urging for those impacted to get transitional payments.
Among the campaigners is the group Women Against State Pension Injustice (WASPI) Campaign 2018.
Today, this group has claimed up to 1.5 million jobs could be created by letting women in their 60s who are affected by the changes access their state pensions and retire early.
The comments come in response to widespread unemployment fears, as millions feel the financial impact of the COVID-19 crisis.
The UK’s unemployment rate rose to 4.8 percent in the three months to September, up from 4.5 percent.
Francesca Estasy, Chair of the Women Against State Pension Injustice (WASPI) Campaign 2018, said: “Around one million women aged 60-64, and over half a million women over 65, are in work.
“We make up over 10 percent of the workforce.
“It would be a win-win solution to help the current unemployment crisis.
“Older women whose jobs have become too strenuous could retire if they wished. Much-needed jobs would be available to younger people.
“Many of those who joined the workforce would leave the benefits system.
“Their spending power would increase and the economy would benefit.
“Women in our 60s are advised by the Government to minimise contact with other people because of COVID-19.
“But many over-60s women are working in public-facing roles such as social care, the NHS or retail.
“They are frightened to go to work but cannot afford not to because they have no other source of income.
“It is not just common sense, but also humane, to allow them to retire.”
Ms Estasy has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Shadow Chancellor, Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and the Opposition Party Leaders on the topic.
Lynda Anderson, 64, was born in 1956 and worked most of her life as a nurse in the NHS.
The WASPI campaigner works in Morriston hospital in Swansea.
“I was initially planning to retire at 60,” said Lynda.
“I applied for a pension forecast when I was 58 and discovered that the rules had changed so I wouldn’t get my state pension until I was 62.
“This was a blow as I had had a hip replacement and nursing had become a struggle.”
Having changed her plans, the nurse later got a state pension forecast for a second time.
She recalled: “When I was 60 I got another pension forecast and was horrified to learn that the rules had changed again and I would have to wait until I was 66 for my pension.
“I never received any paperwork from the Department of Work and Pensions to tell me of these major changes to the pension scheme that I had paid into for decades.
“By the time I was 62 I was physically unable to carry on nursing and the hospital found a receptionist job for me which I will be doing for another two years until I reach 66.
“During the first lockdown earlier this year I was seconded as a support worker to the COVID ward because I had been a specialist respiratory nurse.
“Despite all the safety precautions I was very worried that I might bring the virus home and infect my husband who is older than me.
“Having my pension age changed twice was like having the rug pulled out from under my feet.
“All our plans and dreams for retirement have been ruined. When I can finally retire at 66 it will be too late.”
Considering whether she would retire now if she could get her state pension, Ms Anderson continued: “I would definitely take my pension now if I could.
It would be great not have to drive to and from work all through the winter.
“There are loads of things I would like to do: online courses in French and dressmaking and I’d join the U3A choir as well.
“At last I would be able to slow down a bit and enjoy the retirement I’ve looked forward to for so long.
“And of course, it would free up a job for someone else younger and with more energy than me.”
A DWP spokesperson said: “The Government decided 25 years ago that it was going to make the state pension age the same for men and women as a long-overdue move towards gender equality.
“We have put in place one of the most comprehensive economic support packages to support the country through this pandemic, including extending the furlough scheme and our £30billion Plan for Jobs to protect, support and create jobs for all age groups.”