Sunday, 31 July 2016

The WASPI campaign's unreasonable demand



As my readers will know, I have been watching the WASPI campaign with a growing sense of despair. Every attempt to find a realistic solution to their issue fails because it does not meet their demand for "fair transitional arrangements". But they have steadfastly refused to say what "fair transitional arrangements" are - at least publicly.

The 1995 Pensions Act included transitional arrangements. The rises in women's state pension age (SPA) did not start for 15 years after the Act was passed, so did not affect women born prior to April 1950. And women's SPA was to rise gradually from 60 to 65 over the course of 10 years, from 2010 to 2020. The 2011 Pensions Act accelerated the transition and added an extra year to the SPA for men and women born from 1955 onwards.

Like many, I think the 2011 Pensions Act was unfair, increasing the SPA for some women by up to 18 months ON TOP OF the 1995 Pensions Act rise, with very little notice. I support a campaign to have the 2011 acceleration relaxed or - ideally - overturned. Some might ask, therefore, why I oppose WASPI.

My opposition to WASPI stems from the fact that the co-founders are not fundamentally interested in the 2011 acceleration. Their target is the 1995 Act.

This was clear from their original "ask". And it is now abundantly clear that they have not deviated from that position. They have simply concealed it.

The WASPI "ask" originally posted on their FB page was this:


This was reiterated by Anne Keen, one of the five WASPI co-founders, in her verbal evidence to the WPSC in December 2015, a written transcript of which is in the public domain:
Basically, what we are asking—and we feel this is a very fair ask—is for the Government to put all women in their 50s, born on or after 6 April 1951 and affected by the state pension age in exactly the same position they would have been in had they been born on or before 5 April 1950. As Lin has touched upon, we have worked since we were 15 and we have built up over 40 years’ worth of National Insurance contributions now. All of our working lives we expected to receive our pension when we were 60. Nobody told us any different. Although there was not a written contract as such, there was a psychological contract. All of our working lives we were told, “You will get your pension when you are 60”.
But when Richard Graham MP and Baroness Altmann, among others, pointed out that this amounted to rolling back the 1995 Pensions Act, WASPI fiercely denied it, claiming that they were in favour of equalisation and did not want the 1995 Act overturned. All they wanted was "fair transitional arrangements" - whatever those are.

And we now know what those are. Yesterday, this was posted on the WASPI Facebook group:
REMINDER - AIMS OF WASPI CAMPAIGN - UPDATED
Can we remind everyone of the specifics and objectives of our campaign which are clearly communicated on our web site (and in the wording of the petition):

"The Government must make fair transitional arrangements for all women (born in the 1950s) on or after 6th April 1951 who have unfairly borne the burden of the increase to the State Pension Age (SPA)". 

This is what the campaign is fighting for and will continue to fight for. However, other options are being suggested by supporters and MP's which are not in line with the aims of the WASPI campaign or the APPG. We can no longer tolerate individuals sending out mixed messages and compromises. Such a disunited approach is damaging and gives the government an opportunity to attack and oppose our campaign.

It should be noted that WASPI is the only campaign group for 1950s women to have achieved any level of success over the past year, with 4 debates in Parliament, 120+ supportive MPs, numerous votes of support from local councils, an ongoing petition, the APPG and the start of a mass complaint to the Parliamentary Ombudsman.

Anyone not agreeing with these objectives or wishing to pursue other goals or agenda will be invited to leave the WASPI Campaign.

Celia & Anne
 And this:
Some clarity from Anne Keen as to what transitional arrangements are being asked for;

Transitional Arrangements
There is still some confusion regarding our ask - "The Government must make fair transitional arrangements for all women born on or after 6th April 1951 who have unfairly borne the burden of the increase to the State Pension Age (SPA)"

So what do we mean by transitional arrangements?

Transitional, as the word implies, is an arrangement to move women from one stage to the next. In relation to our campaign we mean a financial arrangement to move them from the date when they expected to receive their State Pension (60 years) to their new State Pension age (for example, 66 years).

In this example, the woman concerned would need an income for 6 years from age 60 to 66 years to replace the expected State Pension income that has been lost. On reaching State Pension age, the transitional arrangement would cease and the woman would receive her State Pension in full. WASPI is also seeking financial recompense for “lost” state pension.  
Several options that reflect our aim and that of APPG have already been suggested:- Barbara Keeley’s bridge pension and Owen Smith 70% / 30% option (made to his constituents after the last debate) and the **JSA option encompass transitional arrangements i.e. to summarise, a reduced pension/payment made at aged 60 until the new SPA is reached, whereupon a full state pension will be made. WASPI are also seeking financial recompense, for 'lost" pension.  
Options mentioned by Owen Smith at the last debate were not transitional. Neither is the one suggested by Frank Field/Work and Pensions Select Committee.  
Many non-supportive MP's deliberately misconstrue our ask by saying we want the law reversing. We don't. We are campaigning for transitional arrangements as specified above that are not means tested. 
Unfortunately, the government have yet to acknowledge that we have been treated unfairly despite the fact that we are not asking for anything that we do not have a fundamental right to.  
* The APPG party has been formed to:- “To provide a cross-party forum in which to hold the government to account on the issue of transitional arrangements to compensate 1950s-born women who are affected by changes to the State Pension Age and to campaign on issues around the State Pension Age". 
**JSA rates from aged 60 until new SPA. Not means-tested and not subject to any JSA “conditions”.
I want to draw your attention to the following two clauses in the second post above, which I have highlighted: 

"...the woman concerned would need an income for 6 years from age 60 to 66 years to replace the expected State Pension income that has been lost."

 "WASPI is also seeking financial recompense for “lost” state pension."

These two together amount to a demand for the financial equivalent of full state pension from age 60 for all women born in the 1950s. The "income" may be less, but the "financial recompense" would top it up to the full amount. In other words, they add up to the original "ask" as explained by Anne Keen in her evidence to the WPSC, quoted above.

So this group of women is demanding special treatment. Effectively, they want the 1995 Pensions Act to apply to everyone except them.They are even happy for it to apply to some older women, since they specifically exclude those born April 1950-March 1951 from their campaign.

The essence of the WASPI campaign's case is that the DWP failed to inform 1950s women individually about the SPA rises in the 1995 Pension Act. This is true. But bad communication does not justify excluding 1950s women from the provisions of the 1995 Act. The most it might create is some moral obligation to provide targeted relief to women who face genuine hardship because they had expected to receive state pension at 60 and have no other possible source of income. Anything more would disadvantage younger women, who also suffer the effects of the 1995 Act and who also did not receive (and in most cases still have not received) individual communications about SPA rises. And it would add to the burden of unaffordable payments to older people that younger generations must support. It would be wholly unfair and highly regressive.

When I pointed out that their demand would impoverish younger women who are at least as badly affected by the 1995 Act as they are, WASPI laughed it off, suggesting that those women should "start their own campaign". And when I suggested that uprating working-age benefits such as JSA and ESA would support those women who are genuinely facing hardship, they dismissed this as unacceptable because many of them would not qualify for assistance. They reject out of hand realistic proposals that would genuinely help women in difficulty, because that would mean no money for the rest of them. They are staggeringly selfish and greedy. They would be better named GRASPI than WASPI.
Now we know what the WASPI campaign's demand really is, we can reject it with a clear conscience. So let's focus on overturning the unfair 2011 Pensions Act, shall we? And ending the brutal sanctions regime for JSA and ESA? And stopping the cuts to working tax credits?
Good, that's settled then.
Related reading:


What WASPI really want - the WASPI ask in full - Cash Questions
The angry WASPIs
Here I stand, I can do no other
What they really want
Kafka at the DWP

Image from itv.com.

15 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  4. Morgeo, your comments have been deleted as they did not conform to the comments policy of this blog. You can find the policy on the About This Blog page.

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  5. I note there's no mention about the unfairness to men born in the 1950s who have always been expected to work beyond their 60th birthday in order to get any pension. Why should woman think they should be any different?

    Its all just a typical feminist reaction - they are all in favour of equality, until it means women have to lose out in some way, then they demand special treatment.

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    1. Sobers, all we asked for was adequate notice so that we could plan our finances, and as we were not allowed that we are asking for a rethink of the rate of acceleration. We are in the position of the goal posts being moved after the ball has been kicked.

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    2. "Sobers", the real answer is "lump it".

      Note also that raising the pension age is much worse for men, who live shorter lives, then women, who live longer. Especially men who worked many jobs in which there were almost no women because they are too grievous, stressful and unhealthy.

      Many more men will die between 60 and 70 then women will, and collect no pension at all or just 1-3 years.

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    3. My wife has worked hard all her life. Paid National Insurance for 45 years,of which 39 years in the NHS. Looking forward to retiring at 60. Sadly many of her female friends and colleagues have not been so lucky to reach 60. Most of those who have passed on in the last few years were in their 50s. So wake up to the fact that men are not the only ones who work hard and die young!!

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  6. This reminds me of the saying "pull up the ladder Jack I'm ok!" shame on you Frances!

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  7. Nonsequeter:

    When we talked about shorting of db it was $14 for the ADR in the us now it is $11.23.*

    About a 24% rise in value would be needed to get back to $14.


    * We are not giving financial advice.

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  8. Interest rate correlated with db stock price graph.
    www.cmegroup.com/trading/fx/g10/euro-fx-british-pound_quotes_globex_options.html?optionExpiration=U6

    His theory of why:
    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/a-look-at-the-global-economic-malaise-through-deutsche-bank-2016-06-21

    ReplyDelete
  9. Correction first link should have been:

    Interest rate correlated with db stock price graph:
    http://seekingalpha.com/article/3994397-deutsche-banks-surreal-tango

    ReplyDelete
  10. Here is the fully corrected comment. The last two can be deleted.

    Interest rate correlated with db stock price graph.
    http://seekingalpha.com/article/3994397-deutsche-banks-surreal-tango

    His theory of why:
    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/a-look-at-the-global-economic-malaise-through-deutsche-bank-2016-06-21

    ReplyDelete
  11. So many of the pension problems have been coming for a long time now. Back in the early 1980's I became aware of the way the figures, the demographics, the concessions made in pay deals and the rest were going. Attempting to explain this made me very unpopular, nobody wanted to know the inconvenient truth. The WASPII issue is just a part of this and an element in a much wider and difficult set of problems. A lot of people are going to be hit and many hit hard. It is a tragedy, but blame those back a few years who ran away it and evaded responsibility. There are no right answers to this and now there may never be.

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  12. I think there are some interesting points here. WASPI will get nowhere with intransigence and surely we should all want those who are not managing to pay for essentials and who state they are frightened with the prospect of no State Pension. The arguments about fairness to men or younger people however whilst true, are not relevant to this case. WASPI cannot support everybody's claims can they. It would be appropriate for men and younger people to campaign for State Pensions as a whole to be reduced to 63 or 65 or thereabouts. The thought that it is going up to 67 is appalling for the next generation. I was born in 1954. I found out about the 1995 Act with ten years' notice through a forecast request. I'm not personally complaining although it was hard because in my lifetime women were defined by their husband's occupations, not their own - In a 1984 magazine, interviewed men and women were introduced in different ways - "wife of an engineer" (woman), "Career in the theatre." (man). It is a fact that men's occupational pensions are largely much bigger for people without wombs than people with wombs, born in the 50s. This is because people with wombs on the whole were left holding their babies for quite lengthy periods and even today have a higher proportion of part-time jobs and lower paid jobs. It is also an irrelevant argument to talk about how women have a higher age expectation. Because people living longer now are those born in the 1930s with again, different lifestyles, and predictions are unproven. According to the Government's ONEYOU Campaign, women in their 40s to 60s now are heading for doubled rates of diabetes, heart disease, cancer..... People who live in less wealthy areas have much lower age expectation of both sexes - I think the gap is 25 years in London, 6 years in Suffolk according to the local Hospital planning document. I agree on the whole that it is reasonable for 50s women to just ask for compensation for losses caused by the 2011 Act, which my own MP, Conservative, Ben Gummer wrote a speech to try to prevent in 2011 although now he is toeing the Party whip line. I also think that the whole issue should be widened to address the increasing wealth gap, and rising pension ages for younger generations. There must also be think tanks about the Care Crisis - including the effect of people being in work longer who would previously have filled gaps in care within families. For WASPI to think it is just about them is perhaps selfish, but they cannot be expected to cure all the world's ills themselves. They are just the beginning. And they aren't in power, they are just themselves. Hope this hasn't upset anyone - just my thoughts.

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