She could be a mother, a nain, an auntie, a friend or a neighbour. She could be you.
There are 20,000 women in Wrexham and Flintshire who have lost out over State Pension age changes they could not have anticipated.
Thousands of women born on or after 6 April 1951 have had significant changes made to their State Pension age without them knowing. As far as I and my Plaid Cymru colleagues are concerned, these should be awarded compensation for their losses.
The campaign Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) is calling for “fair transitional state pension arrangements”, which they say translates into a ‘bridging pension’ paid from age 60 to the new State Pension age. They also advocate compensation for losses for those women who have already reached their State Pension Age.
In support of WASPI, Plaid Cymru tabled a debate on the controversial changes in the Senedd this week to show that we were fully behind the women campaigners.
There are an estimated 138,600 women throughout Wales affected by these changes, which have left thousands of women facing poverty, financial insecurity or ill health. They are middle aged and many will have been looking forward to retiring after a lifetime’s work as well as caring responsibilities.
Despite many paying full National Insurance Contributions all their working lives, these women have been told at the last minute that the pensions they had expected at age 60 would be delayed by up to six years.
This fiasco has caused retirement plans to be shattered and women who have planned and saved for their retirement are living on dwindling and limited savings until they reach their new State Pension Age when the only income they will have left will be their State Pension. The consequences of this poor implementation and communication by the UK Government are likely to be poverty, loss of independence and financial security, or ill health.
I fear that women in Wales have been particularly hit hard by the UK Government’s failures. Income per head is lower than it is in other parts of the UK, and, on top of that, women in Wales earn less, on average, than the men of Wales.
We know that we need to introduce equality in terms of the state pension age, but we need to do that over a longer time frame and give an opportunity to women to prepare properly for their future and in a way that doesn’t leave them in poverty and distress.
At a time when this Tory Government in Westminster feels able to offer tax cuts for the rich but continues to penalise the majority, Plaid Cymru stands with the WASPI women of Wales and the injustice that has been served upon them by the UK government.