MP backs campaign by women against rise in pension age

Georgia Skinner of Peterhead; Olive Sharpe of Rosehearty and Ethel Risi of Fraserburgh with Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP
Georgia Skinner of Peterhead; Olive Sharpe of Rosehearty and Ethel Risi of Fraserburgh with Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP

North East women affected by the rise in pension age have visited parliament to put pressure on the government to look again at the changes.

An estimated 4,200 women across the Banff and Buchan area alone have been impacted by the move which means they will not be eligible for their pensions until they turn 66.

The UK Government has accelerated the process of equalisation of pension ages for men and women.

It means that women born in the 1950s have lost thousands in pensions payments without having sufficient time to plan for the changes.

Around 140 WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) groups now exist throughout the UK.

Thousands of members of the campaign will gather at Westminster today as they take their campaign to Parliament to protest against the changes.

Olive Sharpe and Georgia Skinner will meet today with Banff and Buchan MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford who has previously raised the issue in the House of Parliament.

It is estimated more than two million women born in the 1950s will be affected.

Dr Eilidh Whiteford commented: “Olive and Georgia have, alongside many other women affected by this change, been working hard to highlight this issue.

“There are many women who were simply unaware of the plans and almost half a million who had only a years’ notice to change their retirement plans.

“Of course we are all aware of the challenges we face as a country with an ever growing ageing population.

“The UK Government should rethink this policy which punishes one particular age group.

“I am pleased to support the WASPI campaign and they have my full backing.”

Georgia Skinner, 62, currently works in the IT department at Aberdeenshire Council, and became involved in the WASPI campaign two years ago.

She said: “I only discovered the impact this would have on me on social media. I had no idea before what was going on. I was quite shocked to find the rise in age was six years. We want the government to know we aren’t going away.

“In my current job I’m carrying around heavy equipment and I get tired easily. I want to be able to spend time with my grandkids and my family.

“I love to craft too. I want to be able to spend time doing things the way I had planned. I was devastated when I found out, absolutely gutted.

“Now I am making my voice heard and government should know all the women affected by this are going to make some noise.”

Olive Sharpe, 61, is currently looking for fresh employment.

After discovering the rise in retirement age, she set up the Banff and Buchan WASPI group, which now has a dozen members and is steadily growing.

She said: “The support from Eilidh Whiteford has been fantastic and we’re delighted to meet with her at Parliament.

“The rise in age had a real psychological effect on me, knowing I was going to be working for so much longer than planned.

“When I got the first letter in 2010 I had no idea what the DWP was but was told I would be retiring in 10 years’ time not five and then discovered in 2012 from another letter it would be an additional year on top of that.

“It changes your complete outlook – the plans you had and what you were going to do. We will continue to make our voices heard not just for 50s women but future generations.”