A campaign group fighting controversial changes to the women's state pension age has so far raised over £65,000 in a bid to crowdfund a legal challenge against the Government.
The appeal by Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) was launched on Tuesday after new Pensions Minister Richard Harrington last month vowed not to compromise on the issue, insisting the Government "will be making no further changes in this field".
At the time, WASPI's Jane Cowley told MoneySavingExpert.com that the minister's comments had "galvanised women into wanting to fight on".
Changes in the pension age mean women born in the 1950s will have to wait longer than expected to receive their state pensions, and many say they weren't given enough notice to prepare, or weren't notified at all.
WASPI was formed to demand arrangements including a 'bridging pension' for those caught out by the changes.
In a statement on its crowdfunding page, the group said: "WASPI has campaigned extensively to get the Government to accept that they need to take action to rectify the wrongs done to these women, but to date the Government has refused to do so.
"As a result, WASPI now needs to explore the opportunities for one or more legal challenges. It is being advised by top London law firm Bindmans, who consider that there are important legal rights at stake."
It added that appeal funds would be used "to get the best advice from a QC and prepare materials to assist with maladministration complaints [ie, complaints about administrative failings]".
The group is considering whether to launch a judicial review challenging the legality of the Government's pensions changes.
At the time of writing, the campaigners are well on the way to achieving their £75k 'stretch' target, having met the original £50k target within a day of launching the appeal.
We've contacted the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for comment and will update this story when it responds.
Why will some women lose out under the state pension changes?
There are two separate increases of the state pension age currently underway...
- Under the 1995 Pensions Act, the Government decided the pension ages of men and women would be made the same by 2020. Previously, women retired at 60 and men at 65.
- In 2011 the state pension age for men and women was raised to 66.
These changes mean women born after 5 April 1950 will receive their state pensions later than expected – in some cases six years later.
Many women who had been expecting to start drawing their state pensions between 2016 and 2020 only found out in 2011 – with the additional change in state pension ages – that they would face a delay.
WASPI organised a petition calling for the Government to compromise on the issue, which was backed by MoneySavingExpert and attracted almost 200,000 signatories. The group maintains that women affected by the changes haven't been left with much time to make alternative plans and that existing retirement plans have been "shattered with devastating consequences".
However, the DWP says it did take appropriate steps to notify women of the changes and insists "all women affected have been directly contacted".
Which age brackets are most affected?
The date on which you'll receive your state pension depends on exactly when you were born – the Government has published full state pension age timetables, but in brief:
- Women born after 5 April 1950 are affected by the equalisation of the state pension age to 65 (following the changes in the 1995 Pensions Act).
- Women born between 6 April 1953 and 5 October 1954 are affected by both the equalisation of the state pension age to 65 and the rise of the state pension age to 66.
- Women born between 6 October 1954 and 5 April 1960 will see their state pension age rise to 66.
- The next rise in the state pension age, to 67, will apply to men and women born after 6 March 1961 (and be phased in for those born between 6 April 1960 and 5 March 1961).