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Women deserve pensions redress, says Baroness Bakewell

Baroness Bakewell
Image caption Baroness Bakewell said many older women had been "wronged"

Hundreds of thousands of women deserve compensation for delays to their state pension, the Labour peer Baroness Bakewell has said.

Women born after 6 April 1951 should all have been warned that they would not get a state pension at 60, as their retirement age is gradually raised.

But thousands of women have complained that they were not given proper notice of the change.

However, the government insisted all those women were contacted directly.

"They deserve compensation. They were wronged," said Baroness Bakewell, who was previously a government "tsar" for older people.

"They expected that their pension would start at a certain age - 60 - and then the law was changed quite suddenly."

'Big shock'

Under the 1995 Pensions Act, the government decided that the pension ages of both men and women would be equalised by 2020. Previously, women retired at 60, while men retired at 65.

In 2011, state pension ages were raised at an even faster rate.

Some of those born between April 1951 and 1960 will not qualify for a pension until the age of 66.

Campaigners belonging to Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) say some women had very little notice that they would not get a pension at 60.

Image caption Norah Hickey says she had just two years' notice of her pension delay

Norah Hickey, a 61 year-old former teacher from Solihull in the West Midlands, said she only had two years' warning.

"When I was informed at the age of 58 that I wouldn't be getting it, it really was a big shock," she told the BBC.

Instead of getting her pension at 60, she will now get it at 65, meaning she will have lost at least £30,000 in pension payments.

She said she had lived at the same address for 26 years, so there was no excuse for not writing to tell her.


When will you get a state pension?

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The government's state pension calculator is available here.


Petition

However the government said that all those affected were written to, using address details recorded by HM Revenue and Customs.

It said it would not be "revisiting" the arrangements.

"I can't see any way in which the government would undo a law that was properly made in 2011, and which is potentially going to cost billions of pounds," pensions minister Baroness Altmann told the BBC.

"I really do feel for them. But at the end of the day most of these women will still get their state pension before a man born at the same time," she said.

More than 35,000 people have now signed a petition asking for the government to make transitional arrangements, to ease financial difficulties.

Those whose pension ages are raised after 2017 are likely to be given at least ten years' notice of the changes.

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