In January I wrote to 1950s-born women in Warrington South to provide an update on the action being taken to try to address the injustice that women born in the 1950s have experienced following the Government’s decision to accelerate the rise in the state pension age.
In Warrington South around 6,000 1950s-born women have been affected by the accelerated rise in the state pension age. Since being elected as the local Member of Parliament I have received hundreds of emails, letters and phone calls from constituents who have expressed their anger on this issue. I have met constituents affected at surgeries and in Westminster. I have spoken at events in support of the campaign, I used my maiden speech as an opportunity to call for action and I have questioned Government Ministers on the issue.
Towards the end of last year, I held a local coffee morning for 1950s-born women, at which over 100 Warrington South women attended. I invited local women to come along and share how the pension changes have affected them and to find out what action they wanted to see taken to right this injustice.
I have also written to the Pensions Minister, Guy Opperman MP, to outline the concerns that have been raised with me and to provide a snapshot of some of the comments.
An issue that is often raised with me is regarding the loss of access to the free bus pass. I raised this issue with the Minister responsible. In response to my question, the Minister said that “Restoring the previous age of eligibility for concessionary bus travel to sixty would re-create the anomaly of some non-disabled people of working-age, some of whom may be on significant wages, being entitled to a free bus pass, which was not the original intention of the national bus concessionary scheme.” And that, “Re-establishing the link between concessionary bus pass eligibility and the state pension age addresses that issue and will also help the financial sustainability of the scheme…”
Following receipt of that response I wrote to the Managing Director of Warrington’s Own Buses, Ben Wakerley, and to Councillor Russ Bowden, to ask if, in recognition of the unfair treatment 1950s-born women have received and the fact that the national concession is no longer available, whether there is any action that could be taken locally via Warrington’s Own Buses to help the women affected with the cost of bus travel.
I believe we need to ensure that women affected by the state pension equalisation have security in older age. The 1950s-born women who have been affected need action on this now and I believe that it is unacceptable that the Government is ignoring tangible measures that could help. I will continue to do all that I can to support the campaign to press the Government to put in place the necessary transitional protections to end this injustice.