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Women from North Kent head to London to take campaign against state pension inequality to parliament

Women protesting at changes in the eligibility for claiming state pensions have taken their struggle to the government.

Campaigners from the north- west Kent branch of Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) were among the 2,500 who demonstrated outside the Houses of Parliament against the accelerated increase of the retirement age for women from 60 to 66.

The change was fast-tracked by the government in 2011 and will bring women’s retirement age in line with men’s by 2020.

Dilys Lawler, second from right, with some of the campaigners from North West Kent Women Against State Pension Inequality outside Parliament.

However, many women born in the 1950s now face the financial predicament of having to wait six more years than expected before they receive their pension.

WASPI is not against equalisation but is critical of how the process has been handled, claiming that those affected have not been notified of the change in good time.

Dilys Lawler, who lives in The Brent, Dartford, set up the WASPI north-west Kent branch’s Facebook page in March.

She has paid national insurance contributions since she was 15 and was shocked to discover just this year that she will have to wait until 2023 before she can claim her pension.

The grandmother expected to receive it from next year, when she turns 60. Ms Lawler, who was among the campaigners in London, said she may now have to downsize her home.

“For a lot of ladies born in the 1950s our pensions have been put back twice – first in 1995 and then in 2011 – but a lot of us didn’t get notices.

“It’s just been a real shock. The government has said women should have been aware from the media, but a lot of women like me only found out through word of mouth"- Dilys Lawler

“Some women are now having to claim jobseeker’s allowance of £73 a week because they cannot claim their pension and don’t have a job.

“I have two grandchildren and two on the way and was hoping to enjoy time with them.”

As it stands, Ms Lawler, who works with people with profound learning disabilities, will receive £125 a week once she is eligible. Over six years, that is a loss of £39,000.

“I’m one of the lucky ones as I’m still quite fit, but a lot of women are really struggling and some are having to sell their houses. I will be downsizing myself,” she said.

“It’s absolutely frustrating but the campaign is not about equalisation. We are calling for transitional payments, low amounts to compensate. It sounds like we are whingeing old women, but we just feel pushed around.”

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