The 1995 Conservative Government’s Pension Act included plans to increase women’s State Pension Age (SPA) to 65, the same as men’s. WASPI agrees with equalisation, but does not agree with the unfair way the changes were implemented – with little/no personal notice (1995/2011 Pension Acts), faster than promised (2011 Pension Act), and no time to make alternative plans. Retirement plans have been shattered with devastating consequences. WASPI is a campaign group that fights the injustice done to women born in the 1950s regarding the changes to their state pension age. THE AIM OF THE CAMPAIGN IS: TO ACHIEVE FAIR TRANSITIONAL STATE PENSION ARRANGEMENTS FOR WOMEN BORN IN THE 1950S (BORN ON OR AFTER 6TH APRIL 1951). They are NOT asking for the pension age to revert back to age 60. This translates into a ‘bridging’ pension to provide an income until State Pension Age – not means-tested and with compensation for losses for those women who have already reached their SPA. There are no specific age groups within the period mentioned above that are favoured above others. Life expectancy in Scotland is 76.8 years for males and 80.9 years for females, compared to the UK average of 78.9 and 82.7 for females. Over a quarter of a million Scottish women are affected by this. You can check the timetable here. The SNP has been campaigning in Westminster against the UK Government’s unfair pension changes for women – opposed by women all across the UK. The party has held major debates in September and December 2016 to press the case for change and ensure pension equality for women. The manner in which the UK government informed women of the changes was highly unsatisfactory. The SNP is calling for fair transitional state pension arrangements. There is money in the National Insurance Fund to provide transitional relief, with the fund projected to have a surplus of £30.7 billion at the end of 2017/18. Pensions are not a benefit, they are a contract and the UK Government has broken that contract with pensioners – even though it can be fixed in an affordable way. SNP MP Mhairi Black is a prominent supporter of WASPI. She led a debate in the House of Commons on 7 January 2016 after a petition attracted more than 100,000 signatures. The debate focussed on communication of the changes. On 24 January, she said Baroness Altmann’s evidence to the Work and Pensions select committee was “bizarre”. In July, she made a speech in Westminster. She addressed members of the WASPI group who turned up to protest outside Westminster on 29 August – and hit out at the “ignorant” MPs who didn’t turn up. Contrast that with the MPs who turned up to debate their own pay and conditions – and who qualify for generous pensions after only 10 years. She addressed a WASPI rally on 16 September in Glasgow, as did Nicola Sturgeon. On 21 September, Mhairi said the Tories must take responsibility for the gross injustice of WASPI – and fix it: sympathy is not enough. On 1 December, she said it was ridiculous that the public purse was paying for wars, Trident and palaces but unable to do the same for women’s pensions. The SNP, Scottish Greens, Labour and the LibDems, sent representatives to speak to campaigners at the WASPI protest outside the Scottish Parliament on 29 September. No one from the Tories turned up.
Yes Edinburgh West has a website, Facebook, Twitter, National Yes Registry and a Library of topics on Scottish Politics, including Women and a Facebook page on Women. The 2014 Referendum White Paper (p.141) and the Wee Blue Book, although dated, give a good idea of policy options in an independent Scotland.