State Pension age is steadily increasing each year, but it is a decision made under the Pension Acts of 1995 and 2011 which some are claiming is unfair. In 2010, the State Pension began to shift up from 60 for women and 65 for men to start the process of equalisation – that is, men and women receiving the pension sum at the same age. But a group of women born in the 1950s have argued these changes have disproportionately affected them, particularly, as they maintain they were not given enough notice the alteration was set to occur.
This means that if the decision is not reached by the Court of Appeal then, those concerned expect to wait until Thursday, October 1 – when the judiciary reconvenes work – at the earliest to receive the outcome.
The Backto60 campaign gained legal support from Michael Mansfield QC, well known for his work in human rights law.
Speaking in court, on day one of the hearing, Mr Mansfield described the difficult situation faced by many women affected by the policy.
He remarked: “This cohort are bearing the brunt and shouldering the onerous situations that arise after the statutes come into force.
“This has been catastrophic, and their lives have been totally fractured having to face a situation of this kind.
“Besides the economic – almost poverty line – existence they have to face, it goes without saying that the psychological and mental stress placed upon them, has reduced many people to an inability to go and do what they need to do to make ends meet.”
Mr Mansfield maintained many women did not receive news of the changes that were to affect them until shortly before they came into force, leaving them with little time to prepare.
Henrietta Hill QC, also representing the Backto60 women, argued many women were facing circumstances of poverty, homelessness and financial hardship as a result of the decision.
Ms Hill added that factors of age and sex discrimination were clearly at play in this circumstance.
The Backto60 group are seeking full restitution for the amount they put forward they have lost out on.
However, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), against which the case has been brought, maintain their position the changes were necessary.
Sir James Eadie QC, representing the DWP, has said pensions must be economically viable, and has said it is wrong to have different ages for men and women.
He claimed a large amount of hardship women have reported facing is due to social problems, rather than the State Pension age.
The case, if lost by the government, could end up costly.
Tom Selby, senior analyst at AJ Bell commented: “It cannot be doubted that many women have suffered serious hardship as a result of increases to the State Pension age.
“But the court case also represents a serious risk to the Treasury, with the government previously warned paying full restitution to the women affected would cost the taxpayer ‘in the region of £215billion’.”