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Women's pensions campaigners march on parliament as part of Women Against State Pension Inequality

By KentOnline reporter

A group of women from East Kent are marching on Parliament today, along with hundreds of others across the country.

They are there to protest against changes to state pension provision which they say have plunged some women into poverty and health problems, such as heart conditions or strokes.

The changes affect women born on or after April 5, 1951, moving the age at which they can claim a state pension from 60 to 66.

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Susan Harding, who is campaigning about problems with women's pension age changes. Picture: Ruth Cuerden

And many women say that they were not made aware of the changes in time to prepare alternative retirement arrangements.

Broadstairs resident Penny Wells, 59, is one of the women affected.

She started East Kent Pension Rebels, part of the national Waspi (Women Against State Pension Inequality) campaign.

They also campaign for fairer transitional arrangements for all women born in the 1950s.

She said: “It’s no way to treat a generation of women who have worked hard all their lives.

“I’ve got to work until I’m 66. I’ve already paid 42 years of National Insurance contributions and became very frustrated when I realised I would lose more than £35,000 over the next six years in pension payments.

“It has taken away some of the choices I thought I had, such as taking early retirement with my work pension fund, because without the state pension it wouldn’t be enough to support me.

“The campaign isn’t about reversing the increase, its about the transition arrangements and the recognition that women born in the Fifties like myself have paid many years of contributions without enjoying the benefits of equal work rights such as equal pay, parental leave, flexible working.

Penny Wells, left, and Leilah Leask, right, talk to Marla Madison about pension arrangements and the Waspi campaign

"I work part time to fit in with commitments such as bringing up my children and looking after elderly parents, like a lot of women.

"I wasn’t able to go into my work pension scheme until 1995 because I was a part-time worker and that, combined with the lack of notice about the changes, means that I haven’t had the opportunity to increase my savings and pension.

“This led me to contact MP Craig Mackinlay, and I started my own small petition and then became aware of Waspi.

“I then found out that I wasn’t the only lady frustrated by these changes – there are thousands. I organise meetings in Thanet once a week. There’s a paper petition for each MP, which will be served to them later this year.”

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