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My Evening News column: pensions and WASPI campaigns

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My latest Norwich Evening News column concerns my recent campaign to protect pensions, and highlights the plight of the WASPI - Women Against State Pension Inequality Campaign women.

You can see the article as printed below, and the full piece I wrote is below:

**Keep our Pensions Safe**

Over the past month I have launched my campaign to stop Tory plans to bring forward the state pension age to 68. Under the Tories’ proposals all men and women currently aged between 39 and 47 will have to work a year longer before receiving their state pension. These proposals will result in almost 21,000 people in Norwich losing out by £10,000 each. I have been knocking on doors collecting petition signatures to keep our pensions safe. If you would like to add your name you can also do so online at www.clivelewis.org/protect_our_pensions

I am appalled at this disgraceful and unjustified attack on the state pension. As Tory cuts bite increases in life expectancy are beginning to fall and health inequality is rising. People that have worked hard all their life and paid their National Insurance contributions deserve dignity and security in their old age. Theresa May should treat our older generation with respect and compassion.

The Labour Party is committed to stopping all planned increases in the state pension beyond the age of 66. We would commission a review of the state pension age, specifically tasked with developing a flexible retirement policy to reflect the contributions made by people, the wide variations in life expectancy, and the arduous nature of some work.

**Supporting the WASPI Campaign**

The Tories’ latest damaging pensions plans come on top of the injustice done to women born in the 1950s by the acceleration of state pension age equalisation between men and women. While everyone supports equalisation, the lack of notice given to women born in the 1950s has left them very little time to re-plan their retirements. Secure work is hard to find for women in their sixties and many women are telling me they are forced on to Universal Credit or into taking a exploitative zero-hours contract. Many women are being forced to spend up their hard-earned, dwindling savings to pay the bills.

I am proud to be a founding member of the APPG on State Pension Equality for Women. I have spoken in Parliament on the issue and signed an Early Day Motion entitled “Women Against State Pension Age Inequality”. I have met representatives of women affected in Norwich several times, and written to Guy Opperman, the Pensions Minister, on their behalf.

The Labour Party is committed to extending Pension Credit to those whose retirement age is affected by the acceleration of equalisation. This would alleviate the worst impacts for the most vulnerable women, providing up to £155 per week for 500,000 women. We would also examine additional transitional arrangements for those who would not qualify for Pension Credit.

Unlike Theresa May, Labour will always care for and respect our older people.

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