Backto60 women lose state pension appeal

The Court of Appeal has ruled that women hit by the rise in the state pension age haven’t been discriminated against and won’t be reimbursed for the pension payments they have missed.

The women’s state pension age rose to 65 in 2018 to bring it in line with men’s state pension age. It is now 66 and will continue to increase until it reaches 67 for both men and women in 2028.

Women born in the 1950s argue that the changes weren’t properly communicated to them. Many assumed they would be able to stop work at the age of 60, only to discover that they now need to work until they are 65 or older before they can claim their state pension. A woman born in 1950 will have received her pension in 2010, but a woman born in 1955 won’t receive her pension until 2021.

The appeal explained

The appeal, which was paid for by crowdfunding arranged by the Backto60 campaign group, involved two women in their 60s who have been affected by changes to the state pension age for women.

Julie Delve and Karen Glynn took their case to the High Court last year, claiming that the changes to the state pension age were discriminatory on grounds of both sex and age. The two women argued that they weren’t given sufficient notice of the changes and wanted the years of state pension that women have missed out on to be repaid.

At the start of October last year, their claim against the government over the way the rise in state pension age had been introduced, was turned down.  The two judges at the High Court ruled that the government hadn’t been sexist or ageist in the way it increased the state pension age for women to 65.

The judges also ruled that Parliament didn’t have to stipulate that women who were affected had to be written to so they knew when they’d get their state pension. Not surprisingly, many women were devastated by the result. The two women were later given permission to appeal the result, but earlier this week, have now lost this appeal.

As part of their latest ruling, the senior justices said: “Despite the sympathy that we, like the members of the Divisional Court (High Court), feel for the appellants and other women in their position, we are satisfied that this is not a case where the court can interfere with the decisions taken through the parliamentary process.”

They also said that it was “impossible to say that the Government’s decision to strike the balance where it did, between the need to put state pension provision on a sustainable footing and the recognition of the hardship that could result for those affected by the changes was manifestly without reasonable foundation.”

Economic challenges faced by women in their early 60s

Behind the headlines of the ‘equalisation of the state pension’ lies a complex web of circumstances that place many women in their late 50s and early 60s at a significant disadvantage to their male counterparts in terms of employment and pension savings.

Specifically, we know that the gender pay gap is at its widest for women in their 50s, and that decades of such a gender pay gap leads to a wide gulf in private pension savings between men and women. According to the Pensions Policy Institute, women in their 60s will on average retire with £51,000 of savings, compared to men who on average will retire with £156,000 of savings. Additionally, research by Scottish Widows found that women typically don’t take their fair share of pension savings following a divorce.  Seven in 10 couples don’t consider pensions during divorce proceedings, the insurer found, leaving women short-changed by £5 billion every year.

For those keen, or forced to continue working, age discrimination in the employment market can also be a significant barrier. At Rest Less we refer to it as the final frontier of diversity in the workplace, meaning that talented workers in their 60s may struggle to find meaningful employment due to their age, even if they wanted to and are skilled to do so. There is additionally some evidence to imply that age discrimination may be felt harder by women, than their male counterparts.

In the last recession, women could retire and collect the state pension at 60. This is the first recession where women cannot retire until they are 66. Amidst the extremely challenging labour market we are facing, the court of appeal ruling could not have come at a worse time for millions of women in their early sixties.

How many women are affected?

Around 3.8m women born in the 1950s are impacted by the change to the state pension age for women, with many who were hoping to stop work at 60 having to postpone their retirement plans.

Between May and July this year, there were more than 5 million women aged over 50 in work – 1.3 million more than a decade earlier, according to Rest Less analysis of the latest Labour Force Survey from the Office for National Statistics. This represents an increase of 36%, compared to an increase of 24% amongst men in the same age group over the same time frame. The number of women aged over 65 and in employment has increased by 55% to 540,000, while the number of men aged over 65 and in employment has increased by 44%. However, the fact that growing numbers of women have been forced to go out and look for work in their 60s has also resulted in a large increase in the unemployment levels of women in this age group – up 128% between 2010 and 2019.

As well as Backto60, there are other groups campaigning on behalf of women affected by changes to the state pension age.

Waspi (women against state pension inequality) campaigners, for example, aren’t against the State Pension age for women being equalised with men, but are against what they consider to be the unfair way changes to the state pension age were implemented “with inadequate or no notice.”

Find out more about the Waspi campaign here and the Backto60 campaign here.

Helpful resources

If you’re not sure when you’ll receive your state pension, you can use the government’s state pension age calculator here. To find out more about the state pension, read our article on how the state pension works.

If you have been affected by the changes to the women’s state pension age and are seeking work, you can search for jobs in your local area here. You can also find information on benefits which might help you bridge the financial gap if you’re struggling to make ends meet here.

If you’re not sure whether you qualify, or don’t know how to start your claim, see our article on five free sources of help if you’re making a benefits claim. If you need additional support, it may be worth exploring whether you’re eligible for charitable assistance. Find out more about charities that help women in need.

Have you been affected by changes to the women’s state pension age? We’d be interested to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.

Links with an * by them are affiliate links which help Rest Less stay free to use as they can result in a payment or benefit to us. You can read more on how we make money here.

11 thoughts on “Backto60 women lose state pension appeal

  1. Avatar
    Tracey Pitt on Reply

    I was made unexpectedly made redundant in June 2020 just before my 64 birthday after 12 years service. My sister in law was affected in the same way last year. I remember my mother and aunt going through the same situation. All working into their 60s.

    It would be interesting to know how many women are made redundant in their 60s due to restructuring.

  2. Avatar
    Jacqueline McCann on Reply

    I worked for 42 years in NHS and assumed I could retire at 60. It wa a colleague who informed of the changes to the pension age not the government! It was a devastating blow! I had been a divorced single parent with no support from ex husband! I did retire from my job at 61 and got a lump sum and a work pension. I now work part time in two jobs which are not as demanding. I am probably luckier than some ladies but I feel cheated! The government has stolen over £40,000 from me and all I feel is total disgust. The government pat themselves on the back and give themselves huge pay rises. I do not begrudge the money spent during the COVID 19 crisis but they seem to be pulling billions of pounds out of a hat. Why can they not compensate us ladies who have worked so hard and who are now struggling. All I feel is total disgust. Roll on June 2021 when I do get my pension, unless of course they move the goalposts again.

    1. Avatar
      PalmTreeP on Reply

      Everything further compounded by the change in NI Contributions. Rules were changed in 2016 and of course a lot of women who qualified for a full pension then ie before 2016 don’t qualify now. No part years paid prior to 2016 count. It’s an absolute disgrace on all counts. I am nod of the many affected. Why can’t the government protect its own citizens instead of dishing out generous payments to immigrants from other countries who contribute zero.

  3. Avatar
    Shirley Wood on Reply

    I was also made redundant at the age of 59 also unexpectedly, again due to company restructuring. I’m now 64 and have only been able to find short term temporary jobs since then. I’m currently unemployed and actively seeking work, but I don’t hold out much hope at even getting an interview now. I know, compared to many 1950’s ladies, I’m lucky as my husband is still in full time work and we manage on his income but it’s tight and I can only see things getting tighter as the worse is yet to come as far as this pandemic is concerned.

  4. Avatar
    Anon on Reply

    I was made redundant in July following restructuring due to COVID trading challenges. Only two office staff members went and I was told in my case it was last in first out. The finance director is 67 and job protecting till he plans to retire at 70 so I am pretty sure he wouldn’t argue against my redundancy and his accounts assistant is very knowledgeable and has been tasked to cover all the tasks I was employed for last November. She tells me it is hard and she can’t see how my role was redundant. It should at most have been made part time. Nobody is listening to her. They saved 20k plus associated employment costs getting rid of me. Materials costs per month are more than 5 times what they paid me per annum.

  5. Avatar
    Margaret Sweeney on Reply

    Yes, I am one of the women affected.
    I think it’s a disgrace the way we have been treated, my pension age was supposed be 60, then 63 and then low and behold 66.
    It’s just the way they lie to everyone, that makes me angry.
    They don’t know how to pass it off as legal, that’s because it’s not legal.

  6. Avatar
    Cathy Mc Shane on Reply

    I also am affected. Unable to draw my state pension until I was 64. I worked for 46 years full time and paid national insurance contributions and taxes. I was made redundant at 60.
    It was a tough 4 years waiting in my pension during which time my husband was diagnosed with Bowel cancer and I myself was diagnosed With breast cancer.
    I had been holding down a full time job while caring for my husband and my mother who has dementia. She is now 93.
    My sound advice to all women who are caught by circumstances beyond their control while waiting in their pension is to seek advice on what they can claim. I found it extremely difficult at the time.

  7. Avatar
    June Cunningham on Reply

    I am affected. I was born in 1956 and have worked from the age of 16 and thought I would be retiring at 60, four year’s ago. It is not at all fair but it seems there is nothing we can do

  8. Avatar
    Jane Law on Reply

    If I had been able to retire before the age of 66, I would not now be classed as more vulnerable to Covid and still working as a Teaching Assistant in a primary school.

  9. Avatar
    Amanda Speedie on Reply

    It would be interesting to get accurate figures on this pensions mess as not all women over 60 are in dire straits, so how many are? For example, couples with two incomes, and sharing household bills are generally okay. Single people have one income and all the bills so are hit hard. I am severely affected but I would like the detail.

    I have written twice to the Chancellor, but got no response, to suggest that those of us over 60 could be given our State Pensions rather than claiming Jobseekers or Universal Credit. Personally, I have worked a lot part-time, or on a low-wage, and could never afford to make private pension contributions, but I have 40 years of full Nat Ins contributions. I had no idea I wouldn’t get the State Pension for another 5 years, and I have been working on 0 hours contracts and temping for the last 7 years. I will not ‘sign on’ again as £74 per week is not enough for food and pay utility bills. Instead, I am offering my various accrued skills on a ‘sole trader’ basis and hope to scrape by that way.

    I also suggested to the Chancellor that those of us who are willing could care for grandchildren and our elderly parents in exchange for getting our pensions from age 60. It would also remove those unemployed older folk from the unemployed statistics.

    The huge disappointment (Covid notwithstanding) is that employers are not interested in older women workers and their accumulated skills and experience, so self-employment seems the way to go.

  10. Avatar
    Mandy on Reply

    I was made redundant at 58, couldn’t get a job, so had to take my private pension early. I got penalised for that! And my state pension.
    We planned to retire at 60!! There wasn’t enough time before to earn the £48,000 that the government have taken off us. We have lived our lives through inequality and it’s still not equal now! They could have suggested men retire at 60 and made it equal?? Or all retire at 63!! That seems fairer… but no! So it is penalising women!!

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