Fallout over funding of pension gap

A furious war of words has broken out between councillors over support for a campaign highlighting pension inequality for women.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 19th December 2016, 7:00 am
WASPI members from across the country took part in a lobby at the House of Commons

Last year the WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) was launched to highlight that females born after April 6, 1951, were facing a pension shortfall when the Westminster Government raised the pension age to 65 in line with their male counterparts.

However, WASPI is unhappy that there was little notice of changes and they were then implemented faster than promised, with those affected having no time to make alternative plans.

Falkirk MP John McNally has been a strong supporter of the campaign which is urging that a ‘bridging’ pension is provided until State Pension Age (SPA) – not means tested and with compensation for losses for those who have already reached their SPA.

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It is estimated around 7000 local women will be affected.

At last week’s full council, a motion urging support of the WASPI campaign and asking members to agree to lobby the Westminster Government to reconsider transitional arrangements was put forward by SNP group leader Councillor Cecil Meiklejohn.

An amendment was put forward by Labour’s Linda Gow agreeing to the motion but also asking for the First Minister to be contacted “requesting that her government consider using their new powers to compensate those women in Scotland who will suffer due to the bringing forward of the changes to their pension qualifying age”.

Councillor Gow’s amendment was carried by 16 votes to 14.

But this week Mrs Meiklejohn hit back, saying: “If ever a motion should have received unanimous support of all parties within Falkirk Council it would have been this one.

“However, Labour’s dislike of the SNP is greater than any commitment to support local people who have been badly treated by the Westminster Government.”

Mrs Gow said the comments were “an outrageous lie”.

She said: “I have always supported those involved with WASPI and appreciate the work John McNally has done.

“I put forward my amendment as I did not want to be political but to raise awareness in both parliaments that these women didn’t have enough notice to make alternative arrangements.

“I take these comments as a personal affront. I passionately support these women and I’m one of those who will be affected by this.”