State pension age changes: WASPI addresses Boris Johnson's pledge 'Like we never existed'

While Boris Johnson assumed office as the UK Prime Minister in July last year, this month marks a year since the Conservative Party received a landslide majority of 80 seats in the 2019 general election. He’s now more than a year into his role in the top job, and during an exclusive interview recently, campaigners have addressed a remark Mr Johnson made during leadership hustings last year.

“Because I’m conscious it’s been going on for too long,” he added.

However, several months later in the run-up to the 2019 General Election, Mr Johnson again addressed the matter, when he was asked for his position on support for those impacted by the state pension age changes for women.

Speaking on BBC Question Time in November 2019, he said: “Well the WASPI issue as everybody knows is a very difficult problem caused by change in the pension age for women who have retired of a certain age and I do sympathise deeply with the position of the WASPI women.

“And we have looked at it and looked at it and I would love to magic you a solution but it is very expensive to come up with the solution that you want.


“And I’m going to be honest with you tonight, I cannot promise that I can magic up that money for you tonight.

“All of the demands that the WASPI women make. We’re going to look at it but it is not possible to satisfy all the demands of the WASPI women.

“I’m going to put my hands up and confess that.”

Recently, spoke with the WASPI’s communications director Debbie de Spon.

The campaign group don’t oppose state pension age equalisation – something which was achieved in November 2018 – but they do argue against the way in which the changes were introduced.

These particular campaigners are calling for the government to introduce “fair transitional state pension arrangements” for women born in the 1950s who were affected by the changes.

Asked about Mr Johnson’s comments on the issue last year, Mrs de Spon said: “He did nothing. He has done nothing, or has only come back and said no there’s nothing more that can be done.

“Any communication that women get now comes from Guy Opperman and he talks about all the fantastic schemes that have been put in place and all the benefits that are available for women and the Kickstart scheme and how hard the government are working at making things ok for people.

“And it completely whitewashes the WASPI issue. It’s almost as if we’ve been written out of history.

“We’re like the grey shadowy women who never existed.”

Mrs de Spon went on to point out that of course the focus this year has been on the coronavirus pandemic, adding: “And how it’s affecting young people.

“That’s quite right – we’re all parents and grandparents. We don’t want our children and grandchildren to be disadvantaged but I think every WASPI woman can see that there’s something gone very awry here, that the government aren’t addressing.”

A DWP spokesperson said: “The Government decided 25 years ago that it was going to make the State Pension age the same for men and women as a long-overdue move towards gender equality and this has been clearly communicated.

“Raising State Pension age in line with life expectancy changes has been the policy of successive administrations over many years.”

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