I was contacted several months ago by several local women who had just discovered that the government had changed their retirement age without warning them. The impact on their lives was profound and disturbing.
That was when I found out that many thousands of women who were born in the 1950’s – most profoundly between 1951-3 – had been affected nationwide. The WASPI campaign was born and I proudly support it both nationally and locally.
The most shocking thing is that so many women had no idea that this was happening to them. Imagine planning for retirement for many years and then suddenly finding out that the government have extended the age you can claim state pensions by years.
So I contacted every woman in our constituency that I could find, using the electoral register, to inform them and get as much information as I could. I organised a local petition which became the very first petition I formally presented to the House of Commons.
And this weekend I held a public meeting for those affected and invited the Shadow Leader of the House of Lords to come and speak and listen. Because so many government defeats and policy changes – like the tax credit reversal for disabled people – have been achieved in the Lords, I really want to get them involved.
We heard so many emotional stories, such as one women who was due to retire this year but instead is renting a room in her home on AirB&B and working as a cleaner in a residential home instead. She feels humiliated, disappointed, worried and angry and I understand.
The meeting was charged, passionate, and full of energy to move forwards. I loved being around so many people who were looking to the future with determination and acting with such dignity despite the humiliation being heaped on them by government.
Labour has policies to tackle this such as transitional pension credits, but I will be working as part of this brilliant team to do everything I possibly can to help deliver the justice they need and so definitely deserve. I hope you’re having a great weekend, Peter