Jim Cunningham MP: 1950’s women suffered considerable inequalities – they should be afforded free bus travel

Posted On: 
31st October 2019

Conservative changes to the state pension age disadvantaged 1950's women the most. Free bus travel would benefit many who are in limbo between their working lives and retirement, writes Jim Cunningham MP. 

WASPI women campaigners. "Many of these women would have entered the work place in the 1960s and the 1970s; a time at which women were openly discriminated against", writes Jim Cunningham MP.
Credit: 
PA Images

1950’s women have been unfairly punished by the Conservatives.

The changes made to state pension age were rushed through the House. The impact of the legislation has been colossal.

Pushing back the age at which women born in the 1950s could collect their pension so quickly gave them no time to plan for their retirement. Women who were expecting to retire in a few years began to work less days or left their career entirely knowing they could afford to take time off as they would soon be in receipt of their state pensions.

The state pension is not a lottery win that people get once they retire. It is the return of money that hardworking people have paid into the system to support them once they are too old to work.

The worst effected women have lost out on tens of thousands of pounds and will retire 6 years later than they expected.

Last month the High Court was sympathetic with the 1950's women but ruled that they had not been discriminated against. However, the pace at which the changes to their state pension age have taken place certainly puts them at a disadvantage to men.

Women born in the 1950s have already suffered considerable inequalities in the work place.

Many of these women would have entered the work place in the 1960s and the 1970s; a time at which women were openly discriminated against. They were refused promotions because of their gender, refused adequate pay for skilled work because of their gender, and maternity rights were almost non-existent. These factors along with social expectations mean that they are already at a financial disadvantage.

The Conservative’s changes to state pension age only adds to this.

It is unsurprising then that these women have put up such an excellent fight against these injustices. However, the Government have refused to admit their mistake and address the problem they have created. The May, and now the Johnson, administration have refused to compensate these women for the money they have lost out on.

That is why I am calling on the Government to give 1950's women the small compensation of free bus travel from the age at which they were meant to retire before the 2011 changes.

Right now, bus passes are given to those in receipt of their state pension at the discretion of their local authority.  The Government must provide the necessary funds to ensure that all 1950’s women can enjoy a free bus pass.

This concession is small and by no means replaces the tens of thousands of pounds that 1950’s women have lost. However, constituents have written to me describing the benefits this would bring them.

Many of these women are now unemployed, living off savings or supported by their spouses. Free travel around their towns and cities would allow them to save a great deal of money while in limbo between their working lives and retirement.

There are many benefits to bus passes for pensioners.

It combats isolation and tackles loneliness. Bus passes help pensioners retain their independence and ensures that they can participate fully in their communities. The cost of childcare is so high that many 1950's women have become daytime carers for their grandchildren; a free bus pass would allow them to give their grandchildren meaningful and exciting days out. Furthermore, they will benefit from taking the bus to medical appointments to avoid astronomically high hospital car parking charges.

I am calling on the government to provide local authorities with the necessary funds to ensure that the 1950’s women, who they have treated so badly, receive the small concession of a bus pass at the age at which they were due to retire before the 2011 changes.

While the government refuse to compensate 1950’s women I hope that they will afford 1950’s women the small compensation of a bus pass.

 

Jim Cunningham is a Labour MP for Coventry South.