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Book review The grim price of the rise in the state pension age for women

We Paid In, You Pay Out
edited by Trudy Baddams
(PayPal, £9.99)

WE PAID In, You Pay Out is a collection of personal testimonies from women born in the 1950s on how the unexpected rise in the state pension age is affecting their lives.

The sordid details should be well known by now. Women who were born in that decade were told they would retire at 60 but were informed, far too late in the day, that their retirement age was now 66.

The lack of information and confusion surrounding the retirement age even meant that in 2016 the government’s own website stated that the retirement age for these women was 60.

The pension-age rise means that, if a woman has a job, she has to carry on working but, as one contributor describes, it can take a physical toll. “I am still working at the supermarket, but I suffer from arthritis and severe back pain and some mornings it’s a real struggle to get out of bed. I’m not sure I can keep it up for another two years.”

Women who can’t get a job or who are too sick and/or disabled to work find their only option is the cruel Department for Work and Pensions. One contributor with cancer was sanctioned after an error and she writes about its impact and “the constant fear and worry this will happen again.”

Other women take on caring roles, and one describes the devastating impact of the pension-age rise. Sixty-four years old, she tells of looking after her seriously ill partner, revealing: “In the past five years his condition worsened, resulting in end-stage kidney failure and he was diagnosed with dementia.

“If I had been given my pension at 60, I could have given him 100 per cent of caring, instead of having to go to work as well ... He passed away in March 2017.”

The reader is left with a sense of injustice about the lives put on hold and the resultant suffering. It also becomes clear that the knock-on impact means this is not just an issue for the women affected but for society as a whole.

It’s about decency and fairness and that cuts through generations, from the very young to the old.

We Paid in You Pay Out is available for £9.99 through PayPal at WePaidInYouPayOut@mail.com. Ruth F Hunt is a freelance journalist and author of The Single Feather

 

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