Women take fight over pensions to the High Court

Wednesday 15th August 2018 9:54 am
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63 Is The New 60’s Mariana Robinson ()

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A GROUP of Monmouthshire women have helped their battle for pension equality reach the High Court.

In the latest action of a highly organised and determined campaign by women across the country refusing to quietly accept the most recent pensions reforms, county women have helped with an application for judicial review which has been lodged at the High Court against the Department for Work and Pensions.

Led by Llandogo woman Mariana Robinson and backed by many local women, the now national 63 Is The New 60 group has helped similar group, Back to 60, to launch the review.

63 Is The New 60 and Back to 60 came into the public eye in 2016, following an outcry from women born in the 1950s who had been targeted by pension equality reforms as the pension age was raised.

Around three million women across the UK were not contacted about the changes until months before their pensions were due, and those affected have been left waiting up to six years for the financial support, throwing many into the depths of poverty.

The two groups are fighting the government with slightly different goals, with Back to 60 arguing that the pensions should be returned to those women affected by the reforms and backdated to the age of 60, and Mariana’s group opting to compromise at 63.

In this latest campaign move, affected women and their male supporters are being backed by prolific barrister Michael Mansfield QC, who earlier in the year took members of groups including 63 Is The New 60 and on a campaign bus trip across London to highlight their crusade.

The application for judicial review backs Back to 60’s campaign, and was crowd-funded by supporters of the One Voice campaign, which encourages the different groups of women to come together with ‘one voice’.

The application was lodged just 48 hours before the court closed for its summer recess, but upon actioning, the next stage will be a High Court hearing where a judge will be asked to allow the review to go ahead. The review is likely to be challenged by the government, with politicians unmoving so far despite pressure from several groups from across the country, but ministers will have to justify their actions.

The High Court challenge comes after a Letter before Action was sent to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Esther McVey early in June following work by Birnberg Peirce solicitors in London under the guidance of Michael Mansfield QC. Upon lodging the challenge, the esteemed QC said: “The basis of the legal challenge is that the pension policy implemented by successive governments in respect of women of a particular age group (those born in the 1950s) constitutes a gross injustice and is discriminatory. The impact on the economic, social and mental wellbeing of these women, who rightly enjoyed a perfectly legitimate expectation of satisfactory provision in retirement, has been devastating.

“The extent of individual distress and hardship is only now becoming evident through real stories of women around the UK. It is deeply ironic that all of this is done in the name of equalisation and equality, when the very means employed to achieve this are themselves discriminatory.”

As well as working closely with the solicitors, earlier this year Mariana also attended an All Party Parliamentary Group consultation in London on the issue of pension reforms, which vowed only to review to subject.

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