Two women have lost their Court of Appeal challenge against the government over controversial changes to the state pension age.
Nearly four million women born in the 1950s have been affected by reforms introduced by successive governments to ensure “pension age equalisation”, which have raised the state pension age for this group from 60 to 66.
Julie Delve, 62, and Karen Glynn, 63 – supported by campaign group BackTo60 – brought a Court of Appeal challenge over the changes after losing a landmark High Court fight against the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) last year. The women argued that raising their pension age unlawfully discriminated against them on the grounds of age and sex, and that they were not given adequate notice of the changes.
But in a judgment published on Tuesday, master of the rolls Terence Etherton, lord justice Underhill, and lady justice Rose unanimously dismissed the women’s claim. They found that introducing the same state pension age for men and women did not amount to unlawful discrimination under EU or human rights laws.
“Despite the sympathy”
As part of their ruling, the senior justices said that:
despite the sympathy that we, like the members of the Divisional Court (High Court), feel for the appellants and other women in their position, we are satisfied that this is not a case where the court can interfere with the decisions taken through the Parliamentary process.
They also said that “in the light of the extensive evidence” put forward by the government, they agreed with the High Court’s assessment that “it is impossible to say that the Government’s decision to strike the balance where it did between the need to put state pension provision on a sustainable footing and the recognition of the hardship that could result for those affected by the changes was manifestly without reasonable foundation (MWRF)”.
A former minister pointed out there may be one last avenue for the campaign:
Following defeat in court today for the Back to 60 campaign, seems likely that the Parliamentary Ombudsman is the last big hope for campaigners.
— Steve Webb (@stevewebb1) September 15, 2020
The FT’s global pensions correspondent pointed out the issue with the worsening ‘pensions gender gap’:
The #pensions gender gap increased to 40.3% in 2018-19, with men retiring with average of £7,500 more annual income than women, according to Prospect, a trade union.
The main driver of the gap is imbalance in the level of occupational & private pension saving btwn men and women.
— Josephine Cumbo (@JosephineCumbo) September 15, 2020
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