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Keith woman talks of "heartbreaking" experience of state pension inequality after MP Richard Thomson called for compensation for WASPI women


By Abbie Duncan

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A KEITH woman has spoken out about the hardships she has endured as a result of age related pension inequality after an Aberdeenshire MP urged the UK government to compensate those affected.

Like many WASPI women, Christine said she was not informed of the changes and that being unable to take her pension has had a huge impact on her health, mobility and finances.
Like many WASPI women, Christine said she was not informed of the changes and that being unable to take her pension has had a huge impact on her health, mobility and finances.

Gordon MP Richard Thomson called for compensation last week, prompting thousands of reactions online from women who were impacted by the changes.

Campaign group Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) have also been advocating for compensation after an investigation by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman found that the UK Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) had failed to properly notify women about the changes in their state pension age.

Christine Bright (70), who lives in Keith, was one of the many women who were not properly informed about the changes.

Christine said: "I never even heard we were having our pension cancelled out until I was older.

"I had planned to retire from work at 60. My husband had severe dementia, so I was planning to retire so that I could take care of him and spend more time with him.

"My husband passed away in 2014 and I was supposed to retire in 2012 but because of the pension changes, I was still working so I missed out on that time."

According to WASPI campaigners, many women were unable to join company pension schemes until the 1990s, meaning that many of the women affected by the changes had no other pension available.

Christine had worked for the local council and was finally able to retire just before she turned 66, but said that being unable to take her pension at 60 had a huge impact on her health, mobility and finances.

She said: "Many of us born in the early part of the 50's have suffered hardships due to the changes in pension.

"WASPI women were not told of the changes before our planned retirement, so we had no time to save and prepare. We were not given the time to plan ahead because we weren't really given any notice.

"Not being able to receive my pension left me in dire straits, financially. All of the money I made from work went towards paying for people to care for my husband and I ended up in lots of arrears and debt that I'm still paying off. The £700 a month that I thought I would get from my pension would have helped us so much."

Christine later became ill with rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that doctors believe may have been triggered by the stress of caring for her husband and the financial pressures she was under. She believes that the compensation would help her and other WASPI women immensely.

She said: "The government just don't look at what they're doing to people and I think they have a lot to answer for. They left us to fend for ourselves and we should not have had to.

"It's not as though they've given us a benefit, its money we've paid for all our lives, it's been taken out our wages all our lives and then to suddenly lose it was devastating.

She added: "It's just sad. All the things I had planned to do in my retirement, I can no longer do because of my health and finances.

"I had hoped to retire, travel and spend time with my husband and family and I haven't really been able to do that. It's just heartbreaking."


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