Campaigners protesting about government handling of a change to the age when they receive a state pension have taken their fight to the High Court.
Tens of thousands of women born in the early 1950s claim the rise is unfair because they were not told in time so they could make changes to their retirement schedules to cover the years when they would be without income from the state pension.
The Labour government of Prime Minister Tony Blair sanctioned the change – first equalising the retirement age for men and women at 65 years old, then lifting the bar to 66 years old from 2020.
The government says the law demands the change was communicated 10 years before coming into effect and that the affected women had plenty of time to make changes to their financial affairs to cater for the age rises.
Changing the law would cost £70 billion
“The government decided more than 20 years ago that it was going to make the state pension age the same for men and women as a long-overdue move towards gender equality, and this has been clearly communicated,” said a Department of Work & Pensions spokesman.
Changing the age limits now would be too expensive, says the government, claiming the bill would add up to more than £70 billion.
The case has been taken to court by protest group Backto60, which is seeking a judicial review in the High Court of the way the DWP has managed the state pension changes.
Sex discrimination claim
The group argues that the change is sex discrimination and that millions of women have been financially disadvantaged by the rulings and could have retired earlier with more money if they had been properly told how the age changes would impact them.
Until 2010, women retired at 60 and men at 65 years old.
The state pension age will continue to rise in future decades, from 66 in 2020 to 67 by 2028.
Backto60, which has nearly 725,000 supporters, is part of the Women Against State Pension Age Inequality (WASPI) movement.
The case is expected to last two days with no date set for a ruling.