Around 7,000 local women born after 1951 are set to lose on pension entitlement due to a failure of the Westminster Government to notify women of changes to National Insurance regulations for 14 years after the change occurred.
Local women activists helped form the campaign group, WASPI who, working through local MP, John McNally were part of a lobby of the UK parliament. The group have raised the profile of the issue and sought the support of Falkirk Council through a motion moved by SNP Group Leader, Cllr Cecil Meiklejohn.
Their hopes that the Labour / Tory Administration would join the lobby of Westminster were to be dashed as former council leader Linda Gow rose to her feet to announce that they would not support the motion.
Instead of demanding justice for the women losing out on years of payments into the pension pot at Westminster, Cllr Gow looked embarrassed as she read out an amendment that called on the Scottish Government to remedy the situation through the Scottish Budget.
Falkirk North Labour Councillor, Craig R Martin claimed Labour had included provision of £30 million in their 2016 manifesto and called on the Scottish Government to match this.
The full cost of resolving the matter with an estimated 252,000 Scottish women involved is expected to be around £1.6 billion for Scottish pensioners thus demonstrating the Labour members were completely unaware of the facts when they determined their position before the council meeting.
Cllr Cecil Meiklejohn summed up the case for the WASPI members saying:
“If ever a motion should have received unanimous support of all parties within Falkirk Council it would have been this one.
However Labour’s dislike of the SNP is greater than any commitment to support local people who have been badly treated by the Westminster Government.
I am sure that the WASPI members who were present in the chambers for the morning session of the last council meeting will be devastated by Labour’s lack of support for their case.
Expectations of the two Tories in Falkirk doing the decent thing and supporting the campaign were not high but it is a sad indictment of the modern day Labour Party that their loyalty to their Westminster partners is greater than their any loyalty to local victims.
Women have paid into the pension pot for decades only to be told that the pension they expected to receive at age 60 will not now be available to them and they will lose around 6 years worth of pension payments. This equates to around £14,000 per person.
Labour wants the Scottish Government to take on the burden of paying this, citing the new benefit powers given to them. However they seem unaware that pensions are not benefits and those pensions are still reserved to the UK Government.
I am not sure why Labour believes that Westminster should be able to collect and keep the payments from these women but the Scottish Government should pay out the pensions – it makes no sense at all.”