Women’s Week: WASPI campaigners say some women left ‘suicidal’ over state pension changes

WASPI Suffolk campaigners outside Endeavour House in Ipswich. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

WASPI Suffolk campaigners outside Endeavour House in Ipswich. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Women from Suffolk have described how their lives were rocked by “unfair” changes to pension laws.

They are all members of Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI), which is calling for transitional arrangements for the almost 3.8 million women born in the 1950s who have had their retirement age increased by up six years.

The campaign says these women who were promised a state pension at 60 were not properly informed about the amendment, leaving them little time to make contingency plans and savings.

The drive has been supported by Suffolk County Council.

Valda Marks, 63, has had her state pension age upped to 65-and-a-half and she said she will have lost out on £44,000 as a result.

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She and her husband are planning to sell their bungalow in Glemsford to make up the shortfall.

Bev Gardener, 61, lives in Sible Hedingham but she is part of the West and South Suffolk WASPI group, which boasts around 100 members.

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The former teacher retired at 59 because she was diagnosed with breast cancer, but she will now not receive her state pension until 66.

Mrs Gardener said she was never given formal notification of her pension changes.

Sue Boyd, 63, took early retirement in 2009 to care for her husband after he fell ill, but in 2011 she learnt of the changes to her state pension.

Mrs Boyd, from Lavenham, is able to get by on an occupational pension, but she joined WASPI to fight for those less fortunate.

She added: “Women are having a tough time and it’s not their fault.”

Karen Sheldon, 62 and West and South Suffolk WASPI group co-ordinator, said the way the situation had been handled was “very unfair”.

“Women have had to sell houses, some have been suicidal over it,” she added. “It doesn’t just affect women it affects families.”

Sue Hagley, 62, is co-ordinator of Ipswich WASPI Supporters, which has around 70 members.

She and her husband had to down-size their property in order to make savings after her pension age was risen to 66.

One Ipswich WASPI woman has had to move back in with her mother because of financial difficulties, Mrs Hagley said.

For more information, email: suffolkwaspi@gmail.com (west Suffolk) or ipswichwaspi@gmail.com (east Suffolk).

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