Women hit by pension changes want support from their MP

West Suffolk branch of WASPI including Sudbury mayor Sue Ayres are campaigning for compensation after changes to women's pensions. ANL-161221-101636001
West Suffolk branch of WASPI including Sudbury mayor Sue Ayres are campaigning for compensation after changes to women's pensions. ANL-161221-101636001

Local women angry at government changes to their state pension age are lobbying local MP, James Cartlidge, to ‘do the right thing’ and support their cause more openly.

The West Suffolk branch of Women Against State Pension Age Inequality (WASPI) want South Suffolk MP James Cartlidge to support their campaign for what they feel is unfair changes to the pension age.

They say Mr Cartlidge has been reluctant to show support for the campaign despite numerous approaches.

Karen Sheldon, coordinator of the West Suffolk branch wants to see the MP use his position as a member of the Government’s Work and Pensions Committee.

She said: “Women born between 1951 and 1959 saw their state pension age jump from 60 to 66, with little or no notice, so that they had little time to make alternative arrangements. As a result many are struggling financially, having been let down by successive governments.

“But MPs now have a chance to do the right thing and put in place transitional arrangements that will ease the burden for more than two million women.

“We just can’t understand why Mr Cartlidge seems reluctant to get on board with the WASPI campaign when so many women in their 60s live in his constituency.”

In reply Mr Cartlidge said: “I have met with a number of ladies from the WASPI campaign, both in Suffolk and Westminster, in addition to receiving significant email correspondence.

“It is an extremely well organised campaign that even includes a most harmonious choir that I had the pleasure to listen to outside the House of Commons.

“However, whilst one can sympathise with certain aspects of the position set out by WASPI – particularly those who feel they were not given adequate notice – I have informed all the constituents who have written to me that I will not ‘jump on the bandwagon’ and explicitly support them without knowing how their demands are to be credibly funded.

“Over £1bn has already been set aside to provide some relief, and it is estimated that meeting the full WASPI demands could cost as much as £30bn. This is a colossal sum of money and I am not aware of any credible explanation to date of where that money is going to come from.

“It is true that the SNP proposed using the current surplus in the National Insurance fund to pay for meeting WASPI’s demands, but I asked the Permanent Secretary to the Department of Work and Pensions in front of our Select Committee if this was possible and he said it was not – the money does not actually sit there to be spent, it is used to fund other contributory benefits, and in previous years has been in deficit.

“In short, to fund WASPI credibly, you have to set out a tax you are going to raise by billions or billions of cuts to other spending, whether that be health, education, or transport etcetera. Nobody has yet come up with a credible way of paying for this and I am therefore unable to support the campaign.”

WASPI is asking as many people as possible to write to Mr Cartlidge to demand he supports transitional arrangements for women affected by the changes.

Mr Cartlidge can be contacted at: the House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA or at james.cartlidge.mp@parliament.uk

You can find out more about the WASPI campaign by contacting Mrs Sheldon on 07971 044890 or visiting www.waspi.co.uk.