Campaigners have lost a significant legal battle against the government’s handling of the rise in women’s state pension age.
The retirement age for women rose from 60 to 65, in line with men, and will go up to 66 by 2020, and to 67 by 2028.
Women born in the 1950s claim the rise is unfair because they were not given enough time to make adjustments to cope with years without a state pension.
They argued the changes were discrimination, but judges disagreed.
In a summary of the court’s decision, the 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”.
To chants of “the fight goes on” from supporters, Joanne Welch, who led the campaign, said outside court: “Where do we go from here? Well, where will the government go from here is the better question.”
She referred to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s pledge during the Tory leadership campaign to look at the state pension age issue with “fresh vigour”, adding: “We will be holding you to that undertaking.”
She said she was “rather puzzled” by the court’s ruling, but added: “We can take this, we’ve got broad shoulders.”
What was the case about?
Up until 2010, women received their state pensions at the age of 60 but that has been rising since then. While most campaigners support pension age equality, they argued that the government was discriminatory in the way it has introduced it.
The result has been that some women who thought they would retire and receive a state pension at 60 found that they would have to wait longer – for some a wait of more than five years. That resulted in financial hardship for many.
Those affected were born in the decade after 6 April, 1950, but those born from 6 April 1953 were particularly affected and have been the focus of much of the campaign.