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Daily Record
Daily Record
Calam Pengilly

Paisley politicians show support for women hit by pension rip-off

A variety of groups and organisations joined in the fun at Paisley’s annual Sma’ Shot Day celebrations on Saturday.

UNISON, the public service workers’ trade union, offered both financial support for the event and physical support, joining the crowds of people marching along the town’s streets. Renfrewshire Young Carers, Pals of the Privies, Paisley and District U3A and more joined the march.

While local groups such as the RockUs choir, PACE Theatre, and Right2dance entertained the participants with performances.

Also among those parading were a group of women calling for injustice regarding pension inequalities to be rectified.

The Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Dunbartonshire, and Renfrewshire Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) received cheers from the crowds gathered to watch the parade, which commemorates the victory of weavers over their bosses in 1856.

They are calling for the impact made by last-minute changes to the pension age for women born in the 1950s to be addressed.

More than 12,000 women across Renfrewshire were affected, after the 1995 Conservative Government’s State Pension Act included plans to increase women’s state pension age from 60 to 65, then 66 and 67 by 2028 to bring them into line with men.

Many women experienced a six-year increase with little or no notice. Lack of notification meant that life-changing decisions were made because they expected their pension at age 60 pushing many into financial and emotional upheaval.

In July 2021 the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman ruled against the government in the WASPI battle.

The watchdog ruled that the Department for Work and Pensions was guilty of maladministration in failing to offer adequate notice to 3.8 million women born in the 1950s whose State Pension Age was subjected to a series of changes.

Following that the Ombudsman investigated whether this maladministration resulted in injustice – and how the women involved should be compensated if it did.

WASPI challenged the outcome of this in the High Court recently. As a result, the Ombudsman conceded that part of the stage 2 report was legally flawed and is now reconsidering stages two and three to ensure a fair outcome.

Commenting, Wendy Millar, co-coordinator of the group said: “WASPI groups have been persistent since campaigning started in 2015 and are determined that our fight for justice will have a positive outcome for all.

“Group members are now contacting MPs asking them to write to the Ombudsman specifically with points prepared by our co-campaigners WASPI Inequality, including the need to take proper account of lost opportunities to make different financial decisions and to make recommendations for compensation for 1950s born women generally that are fair, can be put into place rapidly and are straightforward for everyone.”#

WASPI women march in workers' parade (WASPI)

Campaigner Kathleen Birney added: “The dedication of the WASPI campaigners over so many years demonstrates the sense of injustice we all feel. Sma’ Shot parade gives us the opportunity to, just as the weavers of 1856 did, highlight the lack of fairness to ordinary folk.

“The impact of the changes to the pension age with little or no warning on 1950s women has been dreadful.”

Joining the campaigners on the parade were Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, his party colleague and West Scotland MSP Neil Bibby, and SNP MP
Gavin Newlands.

Commenting on the support from the politicians, Wendy said: “We are grateful to all MPs who support our campaign by walking alongside us during marches, by regularly raising the issue in Parliament and who are now writing to the Ombudsman highlighting the sense of urgency in completing the investigation.”

Paisley and Renfrewshire North MP Gavin Newlands said:“I was delighted and proud to walk with the WASPI women once again at the Sma’ Shot parade. However, it remains disappointing that these 50s born women are still awaiting the appropriate compensation.

“At present the PHSO are re-examining parts of the stage two report, before they publish their final response. It is important that whilst this takes place, WASPI and their allies keep up the pressure on the DWP and the UK Government.”

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