Scarborough women born in 1950s hope new Government will look again at call for compensation

A group of Scarborough women born in the 1950s are hoping a new Government will look again at their call for compensation for the thousands of pounds of state pension they’ve missed out on.

Lucy Marshall, Rosemary Ellis, Chrissie Finn and Heather Leith from Scarborough 1950s Ladies Group continue to campaign against changes to state pension age.
Lucy Marshall, Rosemary Ellis, Chrissie Finn and Heather Leith from Scarborough 1950s Ladies Group continue to campaign against changes to state pension age.

Rosemary Ellis, Heather Leith and Chrissie Finn have been campaigning against the way changes to their state pension age, as well as that of millions of other women across the country, were brought in by the coalition Government in the last decade.

The three, who were born in 1957, 1955 and 1953 respectively, say they weren’t adequately notified when their state pension age was increased to 66 and that they were negatively impacted as a result.

Heather, 64, who is now semi-retired said: “I remember getting a letter saying my state pension age was going to rise to 62, but years later when I checked my pension forecast I noticed it’d gone up to 66. I was absolutely livid. I was able to retire part-time because I got my occupational pension at 60 which subsidised for loss of earnings so I’m fortunate in that respect because I’ve got a career and job security.”

However, not everyone was in the same position with some women finding themselves without a job as soon as they hit 60. Former learning support assistant Chrissie, 66, was made redundant shortly before she was expected to retire.

“I made numerous applications but couldn’t find anything because nobody wants to hire somebody at 60,” she said.

“My husband stopped working early so we didn’t have an income and we had to rely on savings and his disability benefit. I have calculated that I have missed out on around £25,000.”

As for Rosemary, 62, who’s currently working one day a week, state pension is still four years away.

“I’ve been a single parent since 1996 so I haven’t got anybody’s pension to rely on. I did have two private pensions but I had to draw one of them down to supplement my income, so that money that I worked hard for to supplement my state pension might not last till I’m 66.”

Aside from the financial impact of the changes, women born before employment equality laws were introduced feel disappointed at the way they have been treated.

Heather said: “We’ve had so many inequalities for our age group when we were mothers, we didn’t have childcare, you were discriminated against if you were a woman because they didn’t want you to get pregnant and leave work, it was never fair. Most of us were looking forward to enjoying our retirement and now all our plans have been ruined.”

Despite the recent High Court ruling, which cleared the Government of any discrimination in the way state pension age was increased, the trio, who are part of Scarborough 1950s Ladies Group, vow to continue their fight for all those women left in far worse circumstances, those too ill to work and those having to rely on foodbanks.

Anyone who is struggling is encouraged to contact their group on Facebook for support.

Compensation is 'unaffordable'

Having fought their battle since the very start, Chrissie, Heather and Rosemary feel let down by Conservative candidate Robert Goodwill, then the town’s MP, who decided not to sign an Early Day Motion (EDM) backing their cause.

However, Mr Goodwill said that doing so “would have misled them”, adding that EDMs “have no impact at all”. Mr Goodwill also said that none of the main political parties standing in the upcoming election has pledged to compensate women born in the 1950s as “it’s a matter of affordability”.

Labour candidate Hugo Fearnley said he is not in a position to say women will be compensated should Labour get into government. However, he said the issue is “definitely something we’re going to look at”.