FOR THE FEW NOT THE MANY- The Persistent Pensioner responds to the compensation package by Labour
You may have noticed I have gone quiet since the labour pledge to compensate 1950s women. I have deliberately waited till 8PM on voting day to release this article as I sincerely believe we need a government with Labours ideals of a fairer society and whilst I do not agree on all of the policies, I am behind them wholeheartedly as the only party likely to get rid of this toxic Tory government and its catastrophic ‘Austerity’ policies and their affects. (I don’t think any of you have missed my feelings on Johnson and his elitist cronies! But these are my views and you are entitled to your own) So hence the delay in my response to the compensation offer as I did not want anything I am saying to jeopardise the labour Campaign and so to business. This is to explain what's happening to the women who have only seen that there is compensation without understanding the implications. Obviously this is all dependent on a Labour Win and then legislation to action it.
For the Few NOT the Many – 1950s Women and the Labour Offer
Whilst I fully appreciate the sustained efforts of many genuine labour MPs and other, not necessarily Labour, (but very rarely Tory MPs) who have campaigned on our behalf for several years now. I am sorry to say that I am deeply unhappy with Labours offer, so I am going to put my cynical head on and bullet point my thoughts. Starting with:-
To give all 3.8 million women £15,000 each would be 57 billion. (incidentally, 76 billion would have got £20.000 for each woman shared out equally) But they are allocating some £31.000 and others nil. Doesn’t that go entirely against their principles? Why such disparity? So I start to examine my thoughts on this.
Why not a fairly distributed compensation offer across the 1950s decade?
We all know that regardless of what has been said it has now been widely acknowledged that the majority of 1950s women right up to this year were not informed in any way that would actually reach them.
I myself born 1958 only found out at the age of 59 and have campaigned ever since, losing 6 years and approx £52.000 in state pension. The letter allegedly sent to my age group in 2012-2013 (that I never received would have been the only official notice) I stand to receive £11.500 over 5 years. Why is she moaning I hear you ask? Because I had £52.000 stolen from me as did the 1959 -60 women with no notice just the same as the earlier cohort. God help the 1959 women who will have to survive another 5 years pension-less with compensation under this calculation of almost nil. I am moaning for her!
Compare me then to a woman born Oct 54 – April 55 losing 6 years and a letter allegedly sent 2009 which she may or may not have received. It's hardly any difference in circumstances other than DOB, but actually even that is academic as the majority of women did not know till it was too late to address a massive shortfall in their retirement plans financially. So why such a massive disparity in compensation that was bound to a cause massive potential rift between campaigners?
To give some women offers of £31.000 and a woman born only 4 years later virtually nothing yet suffering the same circumstances, goes completely against the Labour’s campaign slogan ‘For the Many Not the Few.’ In fact this offer is mainly for the few and not the many and here's why in one clear image.
I haven’ t been able to find figures on the 3.8 million women but this image was sent to me.
The figures below have been taken from the Oct 2019 parliaments briefing paper Ref CBP- 7405.
An example based on 2.6 million women overall – Example is women with 6 years added (earliest cohort not included to keep it simple) 179.000 affected These women will receive the greater offer
April 55 – April 59 1.559,300 affected This reduces steeply
April 59-April 1960 417.600 affected This offer is a disgrace!
Are you getting my drift yet?
Now here’s my cynical head going on… John McDonnell said very sincerely that it was a “Massive debt of honour.” Lets examine how they intend to honour that debt.
They intend to give the highest compensation starting at £31.000, sliding down by age to nil if you are unfortunate to be born in the 1959 – 60 cohort. For those unfortunates, they will be left without pension for five years still, virtually no compensation apart from approx £10 per week over five years. How does that save the roof over their head or address their poverty? How does that pay the “Massive debt of honour” for these women?
2. Why 58 billion over five years?… Well, It could be said that 11 billion or thereabouts a year is a great price to pay for power, bearing in mind that there have been figures bandied about stating 1950’s women and there families could equate to some 8% of the voting population. We could tip the balance on this election and I pray that it does regardless of any offer.
However I sincerely hope that is not the motivation behind the offer, but why wouldn't it be as we have been telling them this for many months prior to the election and perhaps they listened well.
3. Giving the 1954-55 women a hefty offer when those women are battle weary, but also mainly they are the founders and central figures in the campaign would place extreme temptation on that cohort of women to take the offer and run leaving the majority with a lot less of an offer and it the cases of women born 1959, an absolute insult of £2500 down to nothing spread out over five years! Without these older women, I would not have found out and they have my deepest admiration and respect. I am though asking them to keep unity with the sisters that have fought hard alongside them and acknowledge that this is wrong.
The newer blood have not fought the length of time the older women have but unlike them, later born women will still be subject to no pension income for years to come and its effects with no decent compensation at the end of it
They fought longer because the younger women didn’t know and only started to find out when we neared our pension age and started to consider our future when retirement was close, or heard from the Waspi posts on Facebook when the campaign started to take hold (around about 2015 it looked to be building from my research to a point where other affected women started to really find out. I heard from Facebook in 2017).
However, those new women coming on did refresh and strengthen the campaign and replaced sisters that had fallen through ill health, fatigue, and death. Without us, the campaign would perhaps not have sustained the power that has and got us this recognition. Which we all deserved, regardless of when we found out. We all know the Tory's were waiting for us to ‘go away’ and relied on those earlier women to tire and fall by the wayside till the campaign faltered. The new blood brought renewed determination and a shock for the govt. The older women opened the gates to awareness and the new blood.
But let’s consider if these older women did take the offer and run. (and to a degree, who could blame them? Time is precious for us all and the government knows this) It would go a long way to breaking the campaign with the divisions it would create. A win win really for any government wishing to save a few quid and get us off their backs by dividing us, whilst at the same time utilising our voting power…
4. So...Why not a compensation amount based on so much per year of pension lost? That would be fairer. Divide the 56 billion into a total numbers of lost years and allocate accordingly?
Because they couldn’t rely on that being tempting enough for the majority of women who have lost £40.000 and above. Look at the image above again.
5. Why not full restitution?
Why not indeed? Financial savings only behind this in my opinion. If we get to the appeal and win the Govt would have to find the money (and this was confirmed out of the mouths of the Labour party themselves)
For Labour to state that this has been a grave injustice to 1950’s women unequivocally and publicly (which we very much appreciate after Tory stonewalling and lies all these years) was like a shining beacon of morality. To then discover they intend then to target only a few for decent compensation and leave many women still in abject poverty and those now born later and facing up to five years with the likelihood of losing there homes, health and lives still, was like a one two punch in the gut.
You can’t seriously be genuine if you have acknowledged the injustice, got campaign points publicising it and then leave many women out in the cold and heartbroken at the betrayal because of the accident of their birth date! Can you? Really?
4. Why now? When you have been negotiating for over eighteen months. Why not included in the manifesto when we were campaigning tirelessly for this for a long time and yet it wasn’t taken forward to manifesto at conference.
Labour say they feel so strongly about this injustice and I’m sure they do but why four days after the manifesto was released?... Could it be it would give them a boost in the campaign nearer to the election before the calculator was disseminated the to the majority of women and they then found out how little and virtual useless the compensation would be to those born 1958 onwards would be in lifting them from hardship and started to oppose it publicly? (can I add I stood yesterday in Margate with two active campaigners who still did not understand the implications and one lady who didn’t know there was a calculator)
5. Why were all the majority of compensation amounts quoted the top figure of £31.000 to an average of £15.000? no mention of nil in the media?
Because the sliding compensation scale wipes out a massive amount of compensation for those later born women who are in the majority and it was not something they were going to publicise whilst quoting we were owed a ‘Massive debt of honour’ it would lose them votes.
6. Why a sliding scale to zero?
Easy (refer to point 5) and it stops the early 1960’s women trying to take their claim forward.
7. Why not means tested? As long as it fairly examines the right to have a decent amount of savings that may have been used or about to be used to survive. Then the women who were well off and never felt the need to campaign would enable those who really needed to campaign for their survival a chance at a fair amount. Although I have to agree that stolen money is stolen money and should be returned in full to anyone regardless of status. (It does grate on me, however, when Teresa May will benefit though)
8. Why not give the latter half their pension now? we are still without income for several years or too ill to work in many cases. Oh, I forget, that would be a substantial amount.
9. Or...Why not give pension credits to support those with less than £15.000 compensation over five years and without pension still.? Do we not deserve our stolen money back? Especially as the Tory's have just ripped a load of money off pensioners via the changes in pensions credits across the board.
This offer has got to be viewed levelly. To the women set to receive £20.000 and over and still saying this is unfair to the majority, you have my heartfelt thanks.
To Labour, you have my support of your overall principles, but not my confidence in your sincerity over this compensation offer, because of the way this has been done. I would love you to prove me wrong. Please do and restore my faith in the fair society you say you wish to set in place. I believe in the principles of your manifesto. Now put those words ‘For the Many, Not the Few’ into action and please address this massive imbalance in compensation.
Despite this, I am praying tonight that you oust these toxic Tory's and give us hope for our children’s future.
The Persistent Pensioner.