A challenge to controversial changes to the state pension age for women has been dismissed by top judges today.
Nearly four million women born in the 1950s have been affected by steps taken by successive governments to ensure “pension age equalisation”, which has raised the state pension age for women from 60 to 66.
Two women, Julie Delve, 62, and Karen Glynn, 63, took their fight against the move to the Court of Appeal, claim they have been unlawfully discriminated against by the Department for Work and Pensions by being forced to wait for their state pensions.
However top judges this morning dismissed the appeal, finding that governments had taken adequate steps to notified those affected of the change and were entitled to tackle an issue of the “highest economic and social importance”.
“The court unanimously dismisses the appeal, holding that adopting the same state pension age for men and women does not amount to unlawful discrimination under either EU law or the Human Rights Convention”, Master of the Rolls Sir Terence Etherton, Lord Justice Underhill and Lady Justice Rose wrote in a summary of their decision.
They found the High Court, in dismissing the first challenge, was “entitled to conclude on the evidence that the publicity campaign implemented by the DWP had been adequate and reasonable”.
The campaign of Ms Delve and Ms Glynn has been backed by pressure group BackTo60, arguing discrimination on the grounds of age and sex.
Michael Mansfield QC, representing the two women, said the impact of the state pension age change has been “dramatic”, adding: “This has been catastrophic for this group.”
Mr Mansfield described the six-year wait that women have from 60 to 66 as a “considerable” period of time which translates to a “considerable” sum of money – around £8,000 if it is a full pension, leading to losses that could run up to about £50,000.
The court heard Ms Delve expected to receive her state pension at the age of 60 in 2018, but as a result of the changes, she will not receive it until 2024.
Ms Glynn expected to receive her state pension at 60 in 2016, but will not receive it until 2022.
In today’s ruling, the Court of Appeal found legislation behind the pension age change had been introduced to “deal with matters of the highest economic and social importance aiming to ensure intergenerational fairness, to make pensions affordable at a time of great pressure on public finances, and to reflect changing demographics, life expectancy and social conditions.”
The judges also found that that the legal challenge had been brought “out of time”, and even if successful the court would not have been able to grant any remedy.