Campaigners lose case over women’s state pension age
The campaigners will be watching the outcome
Judges have ruled against campaigners challenging the government’s handling of a change to the women’s state pension age.
In a judgement at the High Court the justices said there had been no discrimination and the claim over unfair treatment was rejected.
Pension age equality was determined by the 1995 Pensions Act but was accelerated under a 2011 Act so that the retirement age for women rose from 60 to 65 last November. It will go up to 66 by 2020, and to 67 by 2028.
Women born in the 1950s who are most affected by the changes say they were not made sufficiently aware of the legislation to allow them to prepare.
But at a hearing today tthe judges said: “There was no direct discrimination on grounds of sex, because this legislation does not treat women less favourably than men in law. Rather it equalises a historic asymmetry between men and women and thereby corrects historic direct discrimination against men.”
The court also rejected the claimants’ argument that the policy was discriminatory based on age, adding that even if it was “it could be justified on the facts”.
The women claimed they paid their national insurance contributions and that the government is in breach of contract by withholding pension payments from the age 60 as they expected.
Campaign group Backto60 called for repayment from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for the “missing” years of state pension. It was seeking “full restitution, damages and compensation”.
In June, the High Court in London heard the campaign group’s arguments at a judicial review.
The Waspi campaign (Women Against State Pension Inequality) was not involved in today’s court action as it is campaigning for “fair transitional arrangements for 1950s-born women”, not for the state pension age to revert to 60.
Nearly four million women who were born after 6 April 1950 have been affected. Many of them do not oppose equalising the pension age, but object to the way in which the changes have been implemented.
The Department for Work and Pensions said the government decided on the changes more than 20 years ago in a series of acts of parliament.
A number of women have lodged complaints through the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, claiming maladministration over the way the DWP communicated the state pension age changes.
However, the ombudsman said it was “not practical or proportionate for us to investigate while similar and related issues are being considered by the court”.
Supermarkets face equality bill
A legal row over equal pay means that thousands of Tesco staff could be in line for a huge payout.
The Tesco Action Group argues that the supermarket group has been paying female staff less than their male counterparts and is claiming £2.5billion in back pay with each employee affected receiving about £10,000.
Campaigners argue Tesco breached its duty under section 66 of the Equality Act 2010 by paying store workers – who are predominantly female – £3 less per hour than those who work in Tesco’s warehouses and distribution centres – predominantly men.
All four of the UK’s biggest supermarkets are facing pay disputes. In January, the Court of Appeal ruled that store workers at Asda were right to compare their roles to the roles of employees working in the supermarket’s distribution centres.
Hephzi Pemberton, CEO of Equality Group, said: “It is incredibly frustrating to see that, in 2019, the gender pay gap does not cease to exist. To make matters worse, one of the UK’s leading companies has now been pulled up on unequal gender pay.
“It is crucial that companies realise the damage this does to our economic and social relations both within Europe and beyond, and that they strive to remedy the current circumstances.”