I was told only 14 months before I was due to retire that I would have to work 4.5 extra years before receiving a state pension

Letters

I am contacting you as a woman born in the 1950s regarding the changes made to the state pension age for these women by the government with little or, in many cases, no notification.

I only found out 14 months before my 60th birthday when I requested a pension estimate.

I never received any notification or letter advising me of the changes and would have made different decisions had I known. I notified the Department for Work and Pensions of any changes of address – HM Revenue & Customs have always managed to find me.

My state pension age was deferred from 60 to 64.5 – an extra 4.5 years!

On starting work at 15, I entered into a contract with the government that I would make national insurance contributions, which would entitle me to a state pension at 60, and it has been broken – something no private company would get away with.

I have had £46,000 stolen from me, which has caused financial hardship and stress for myself and my family.

If I had been given sufficient notification – it is now proposed that at least 10 years’ notice of changes must be given – I would have made different decisions.

So far no complaint has been upheld, so individuals have to take the next step and make a complaint to the ombudsman.

Many of these women are experiencing extreme hardship and serious health problems by being forced to work up to an additional six years in many cases.

We fully support the equalisation of the state pension age for men and women but not the unrealistic acceleration in implementing these changes with little or no notification to those affected.

It is time the government showed their strength by sorting out this pension mess and putting things right for these women who are suffering from the consequences of their failure to inform them of a life-changing situation.

Patricia Coats
Weston-super-Mare

There’s a lot more wrong with that cartoon

The Serena Williams cartoon is not racist. It is racist and sexist. As a black woman, I’d hate to get stuck in a lift with the person who toiled so hard to make such a derogatory image.

Amanda Baker
Edinburgh

Meanwhile there are no pay cuts for politicians

The police have yet again had their independent pay rise recommendation reduced by our arrogant government. No surprises there – the same has happened for years in the NHS and other public services, who have seen a steady reduction in their real earnings. The politicians and their fat cat cronies of course will continue to prosper at their expense. No pay restraint there!

Mike Margetts
Kilsby

The future of Test cricket

What a great tribute to Alastair Cook by Jonathan Liew, full of warmth and humour and capturing perfectly the very special and emotional occasion everyone felt at The Oval.

But what is the future for Test cricket? Half-empty grounds in Southampton and Birmingham this season despite this being a tense competition between two entertaining sides. Only one hour’s highlights each day on terrestrial TV, and this will not improve when international cricket comes back to the BBC in 2020. The English team is made up mostly by men educated in public schools as most state schools have abandoned serious cricket with its need for expensive equipment and well maintained pitches.

Without a long-term investment in hard-ball cricket in state schools, supported with both private sector and government cash, the Test match grounds will empty over the next few years and the sort of day we experienced at The Oval on Monday will only be witnessed on a YouTube video.

Kevin Curley
Duffield

Politeness is the least school shooting victims’ families deserve

Some customs are basic etiquette. Whether it be holding the door open, chewing with your mouth closed or shaking someone’s hand, some things should and should not be done.

Looking at someone and blatantly ignoring their outstretched hand should not happen. The article, “Trump’s Supreme Court pick caught on video refusing to shake hands with the dad of a slain Parkland teen,” perfectly captures a side to an interaction that should not be an issue. While I understand that political figures, like Brett Kavanaugh, have to be hyper-vigilant of those out to do them harm, Fred Guttenberg was just looking for a sign of civility.

While it is rude for anyone to refuse a peace offering, let me just say that it is highly inappropriate when considering the status of the two individuals in question. I feel slightly hurt every time someone ignores a high-five or says no to sharing gum; I cannot imagine putting myself out there only for a prominent figure to ignore me. Kavanaugh may one day be making the moral decisions for our country, and this is not a wonderful initial impression. The article mentions that Guttenberg had been publicly introduced, so it seems highly unlikely that Kavanaugh could have perceived him as unfamiliar and threatening.

Guttenberg has been through unimaginable pain since losing his child in the 14 February Parkland shooting, and he deserves respect and recognition for fighting for what he believes in. Maybe the whole situation is a misunderstanding, and maybe Kavanaugh did not mean to ignore him, but, regardless of intent, this incident is grounds for an apology.

Samantha Mills
Address supplied

What’s the point in the boundary changes?

There is no justification for the recently published proposals of the boundary commissions.

The requirement placed on the commissions to reduce the number of parliamentary constituencies from 650 to 600 was not based on an assessment of the workload of MPs. David Cameron felt that it would be popular with the public to pander to the unpopularity of MPs.

The commission’s terms of reference required their proposals to be based on numbers of people on electoral roles. Particularly in poorer areas, there are many potential voters who are not on the electoral register. In poorer areas, too, the case load of MPs tends to be higher. As a consequence, these areas will be unrepresented in parliament and their MPs will have more work to do than those who represent wealthier parts of the UK. Basing constituency boundaries on population estimates would have been fairer.

Despite the meticulous work which the commissions undertook, the proposals should be voted down as their terms of reference were flawed.

In any event, reducing the number of MPs at a time when all parliamentarians’ workload will increase as a result of Brexit, defies logic.

Anthony Slack
Rochdale

The government have just released the boundary proposals for MP’s constituencies. It claims this will make elections fairer. But if fairness is what it wants, then it should change the voting system instead. At the most recent general election it took 30,000 votes to elect a DUP MP and 500,000 votes to elect a Green MP.

First past the post is unjust. Changing the constituency boundaries inevitably results in gerrymandering.

David Rose
Sutton Coldfield