Published On: Sun, Mar 22nd, 2020

Retirement and me: WASPI woman on facing Universal Credit claim in order to afford to live | Personal Finance | Finance


Julie, 60, was born in the 1950s, and first began working in a part-time role at the age of 15. A year later, she left school, and began working full-time at a local supermarket. At the time, there was no mention of getting a pension, she says, with no information being given to her on the matter.

She left a year later, moving to a role in a shop at a nearby motorway services – somewhere she worked for around nine months.

Looking back at this time of her life, Julie, from Luton, tells Express.co.uk: “Again, no mention of a pension. [There was] no pension available to me.”

Fast forward two years, and in 1978, she began a new role in Luton, and was enrolled onto the company pension scheme at the age of 21.

She worked there for around 11 years. Now, age 60, it was only within the last six months that Julie was tracked down and told about her “small pension” which she had been enrolled onto.

The pension, which had been payable from the age of 57, is £300 a month.

READ MORE: Martin Lewis: How some over state pension age could get Council Tax discount

“It’ll be £300 for the rest of my life,” she explains.

In 1988, Julie had her daughter, and two years later, the mother-of-one began a part-time cashier role in a well-known department store, before going on to spend more than 30 years of her life making her living in care work.

Changes under the Pensions Act 1995 and the Pensions Act 2011 have seen the state pension age for women rise and be accelerated from 60 to 65, in line with men, ahead of further increases for both sexes.

It means that Julie’s state pension age is now in the November she turns 66.

Julie says she did receive a letter about the changes in 2013, when she was 55. She says: “How much extra planning could I have actually made, bearing in mind it was only five years before I would have officially retired and I was given no information?”

What’s more, the amount she will get when she does reach this age is something of a concern.

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Julie hasn’t always earned enough to pay National Insurance contributions, meaning it’s had an impact on her National Insurance record – and consequently, reduced her state pension forecast.

And, Julie’s earnings don’t meet the required threshold for auto-enrolment into a private pension at the moment either.

As well as the £300 in pension income she can currently get, Julie will be able to get a £100 payment via another private pension, once she reaches the age of 62.

However, Julie – who currently works as a passenger assistant on a zero hours contract – is unsure about how she will be able to afford her retirement, should her husband, 56, who lives with health issues, not live to be “relatively old”.

If she was single, Julie thinks she wouldn’t be able to afford to retire.

Looking towards the future, Julie is worried she won’t qualify for Pension Credit, and would be surprised if she got even £120 of the state pension once she can claim it. Without the financial support of her husband, Julie thinks she would instead need to apply for Universal Credit.

“I also live in private rented, so I am at a huge disadvantage here. I could be homeless,” Julie says. “This is what a lot of these ladies are facing.”

Julie tells Express.co.uk: “From my experience, you couldn’t even pay into a pension until you were 21, so you lost five years of your working life. If you were like me, you lost five years and then you get to this side of things, where there’s auto-enrolment, but you can’t auto-enrol unless you earn enough. So that’s both sides.”

Patrick Thompson, Programme Manager at the Centre for Ageing Better, commented: “For the first time in the UK there are more women aged 60-64 in work than not. This is a seismic shift, with profound implications for the economy and for women in later life.

“For many women this will be a positive choice, with work providing financial independence, an opportunity to save for retirement, meaning and purpose.

“For others this will be the culmination of inequalities that have built up over a lifetime, remaining in low paid, insecure or poor quality work and delaying retirement through financial necessity.

“The rising state pension age has clearly had an impact on women’s working lives. But while longer lives and changing patterns of work mean many of us can expect to work for longer, it’s vital that people are able to be in work that improves their current and later lives.”

Are you approaching retirement? Have you retired? Retirement and me is looking to hear from you. Get in touch via [email protected] in order to share your story.



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