Scotland

Marches held in Scotland over state pension changes

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Media captionWomen Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) is holding demonstrations across Scotland

Demonstrations are being held to protest at the effects of the UK government's alterations to the state pension age.

Women born in the 1950s say they could lose up to £40,000 because they are unable to retire as early as expected.

The retirement age for women used to be 60, but in 1995 the government announced it was to phase in equality with men who had to wait until 65.

In 2011, Chancellor George Osborne increased the pension age for women.

The Department of Work and Pensions said equalisation of the state pension age "rights a longstanding inequality".

It said no "viable alternatives" had been put forward by the campaigners and there were no plans to make further concessions.

The Pensions Act also raised the male retirement age to reach 66 by 2020.

The campaign group Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI), which is holding demonstrations across Scotland, said retirement plans had been shattered with devastating consequences.

Anne Potter, WASPI co-ordinator for Glasgow and Lanarkshire has organised a march through Glasgow, which began at 12:00.

She said: "The treatment of these women is nothing short of a disgrace.

"Those born in the 1950s are angry. They feel persecuted and singled out as soft targets for the government to save money."

WASPI said phasing in the changes was due to begin in 2010, and the year before that the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) began to write to women affected.

But it said, to date, a huge number of people have still not been contacted.

A demonstration outside Borders Council headquarters in Newtown St Boswells aimed to highlight what the campaign said was the unfair way the changes have been implemented, and the lack of communication from the DWP.

Image caption Lynne Craighead believes pension age changes have cost her £30-45,000

One of its organisers, Lynne Craighead, 62, has recently gone back to work as a reflexologist.

She and her husband had planned to retire together. But instead of drawing her pension now, she must wait until she is 66.

She said: "That's a four-year period, and this amounts to figures between £30-45,000.

"It's a lot of money to come out of your pension pot, and for some people they have no other income; single people, divorced people, widows."

The SNP said it supported the equalisation of pension age, but First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "Many thousands of women who have worked hard and contributed to the economy stand to lose out financially. This is deeply unfair.

"The UK government must make transitional arrangements for women who, through no fault of their own, are seeing their retirement plans put in jeopardy as a consequence of political decisions."

The UK government has previously said that letters sent to women informing them of changes to their state pension age were clear.

A DWP spokesman said: "The equalisation of the State Pension age was announced over 20 years ago and rights a longstanding inequality.

"Women retiring today can still expect to receive a higher State Pension over their lifetime than any women before them, and 10 per cent more State Pension than men of their age because they will on average live longer."

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