State Pension Age for Women is a Feminist Issue
Feisty Women intends challenging 2011 changes to state pension age (SPA) for women through the Scottish courts. While this will be a long game and there are no guarantees of success, court judgements will apply to all affected women across the UK.
Feisty Women is working hard to address the root causes of pension discrimination. The focus of our interest is not pensions legislation. Pension laws passed in 1995, 2007 and 2011 are Acts of Parliament known as primary legislation. These laws were debated openly and passed by our representatives in Parliament. Over the years, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives have all played an equal part in supporting the increase of SPA for women.
In law, it is extremely difficult for judges to overturn primary legislation because a democratic process has taken place. This does not necessarily make it fair. While fifties-born women have been treated appallingly, what matters in any legal fight is the letter of the law and what the law permits, no matter how sympathetic the judges may be. To win, we have to be hard-headed and detach our understandable emotions from the fight. This is a tactical game that requires a degree of ruthlessness and clear thinking.
The full judgement from the recent judicial review includes the following important statement ‘No legitimate expectation can arise on these facts, nor can justiciable obligations of fairness alter or expand obligations defined by primary statute. The claim advanced is not an attack on procedure, but an attack on substantive provisions in statute.’
What this means is that any expectations fifties-born women may have about fairness, reasonable or not, cannot alter primary legislation passed by Parliament, through the will of the people.
Like all our fifties-born sisters across the UK, Feisty Women is in no doubt that unlawful indirect sex discrimination HAS taken place.
We believe unfair decisions about SPA for women have emerged from an equalities culture in the UK that is dysfunctional and from theories of discrimination that are divorced from the reality of women’s lives. The judges in the judicial review, the UK Government and the Department of Work and Pensions are all confirmed in their view that changes to SPA were necessary to achieve equality for men. After a lifetime of economic disadvantage, fifties-born women find this opinion astonishing. Something has gone wrong somewhere. The equalities culture in the UK has produced a world view that flies in the face of evidence and reality.
For this reason, Feisty Women’s target is not pensions legislation but the 2010 Equalities Act. This, however, is also primary legislation. Our plan is not to attack ‘substantive provisions in statute’ but to attack ‘procedure’ in relation to Public Service Equality Duty. There will be wider ramifications from this case. While we want to secure compensation for fifties-born women, our overall aim is to test the effectiveness of equalities legislation which we believe is not fit for purpose. This is the real problem.
In just a few days, on 14 October, we will receive a formal Opinion from our QC about a route through the legal system. We know this is going to be a long game and will not be straightforward. It may even take years. We hope with all our hearts that women across the UK will support us. By sharing knowledge from all our different experiences and perspectives, we may get there. And let’s not forget fifties-born women’s great powers of persistence --- one of our many super powers!
Can you help continue the fight? Please donate. It’s not over. Feisty Women is preparing to mount a legal fight to right this wrong. Our research and evidence convince us that the government deliberately and knowingly discriminated against older women through the introduction of the 2011 Pension Reform Act. With widespread support, we can take action to right this wrong. Help us gain dignity and justice. If you support fifties born women in this fight, donations can be made on the DONATE button on our website homepage. Many thanks!
Feisty Women is a registered charity SCO49016