Thousands of women in North Somerset to wait longer for pension after High Court defeat

PUBLISHED: 20:48 04 October 2019

Campaigners outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London. Picture: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire

Campaigners outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London. Picture: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire

More than 10,000 women from North Somerset have been affected by the changes to the state pension age over the past decade.

Campaigners outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London. Picture: Kirsty O'Connor/PA WireCampaigners outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London. Picture: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire

Women affected by changes to the state pension age lost their landmark High Court fight against the Government this week.

Nearly four million women born in the 1950s have been affected by the changes, introduced by successive governments in an attempt to ensure 'pension age equalisation', which have raised the state pension age from 60 to 66.

Approximately 13,600 women in North Somerset were born within that period, according to the latest population estimates.

And at least 57 per cent of them are yet to hit their state pension age, meaning they will still not be in receipt of money from the Government.

Initial plans would have seen the pension age rise in phases, from 60 in 2010 to 65 in 2020.

But in 2010, the coalition Government accelerated the plans, raising the retirement age to 65 in 2018 and 66 by 2020.

Two claimants - Julie Delve, aged 61, and Karen Glynn, aged 63 - took the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to court, arguing that raising their pension age 'unlawfully discriminated against them on the grounds of age, sex, and age and sex combined'.

The pair, supported by campaign group Backto60, also claimed they were not given adequate notice in order to be able to adjust to the changes.

Campaigners outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London. Picture: Kirsty O'Connor/PA WireCampaigners outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London. Picture: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire

But, giving judgment in London on Wednesday, Lord Justice Irwin and Mrs Justice Whipple dismissed the claim.

In a summary of the court's decision, the judges said: "There was no direct discrimination on grounds of sex, because this legislation does not treat women less favourably than men in law.

"Rather it equalises a historic asymmetry between men and women and thereby corrects historic direct discrimination against men."

The court also rejected the claimants' argument that the policy was discriminatory based on age, adding that even if it was 'it could be justified on the facts'.

A DWP spokesman welcomed the judgment, adding: "It has always been our view that the changes we made to women's state pension age were entirely lawful and did not discriminate on any grounds.

"The court decided that arguments the claimants were not given adequate notice of changes to the state pension age could not be upheld.

"This follows the extensive communications that DWP made to publicise these changes over many years."

He added that raising the state pension age in line with changes to life expectancy had been the policy of successive Governments over many years.

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