Devastation after women’s pension age ruled not discriminatory

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
Upset campaigners outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Thursday. Photo: Getty

Almost 4 million women who had expected to become eligible for the UK state pension at the age of 60 will have to wait another five years after the High Court ruled that the government’s decision to level the state pension age was not discriminatory.

Two women, Julie Delve, 61, and Karen Glynn, 63, took the work and pensions department to court, arguing that the reforms that raised the pension age for women — equalising it with that for men — were discriminatory.

They were not given enough time to prepare for the changes, they said.

But the High Court ruled that the move was not discriminatory, and said that it could be justified even if it was discriminatory.

Some 3.8 million women born in the 1950s have been affected by the change.

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Rebecca O’Keeffe, the head of investment at Interactive Investor, said on Thursday that there have been some “devastating cases” of women who have suffered as a result of the change.

“Pension planning takes decades and most investors have targets and plans, but this case shows that anything can change,” O’Keeffe said, noting that the reforms have even had a knock-on effect on spouses.

“There is no doubt that the state pension is a huge cost to current taxpayers and that a retirement age of 60 is a tough one for the public finances – but there is also no real doubt that the lack of formal personal notices to the 3.8 million women affected meant that many women suffered financial hardship as a result.”

Tom McPhail, head of policy at Hargreaves Lansdown, said on Thursday that the government would “breath a sigh of relief at this judgment, as any financial remedy would have cost them many billions of pounds to deliver.”

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“Given most of the women involved are now already past their revised state pension age, it is hard to see where the campaign will go from here,” he said.

“There was no direct discrimination on grounds of sex, because this legislation does not treat women less favourably than men in law,” the High Court ruling said.

“Rather it equalises a historic asymmetry between men and women and thereby corrects historic direct discrimination against men.”