A case brought against the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) by two women who have been greately impacted by changes to the state pension age has been defeated at the High Court.
The ruling means that women affected by an increase in the state pension are not entitled to any compensation over the money they have lost.
The changes are designed to equalise the state pension age (65) between men and women, but campaigners argue that those affected were not given sufficient warning or time to prepare.
However, High Court judges concluded that: “There was no direct discrimination on grounds of sex, because this legislation does not treat women less favourably than men in law.
“Rather it equalises a historic asymmetry between men and women and thereby corrects historic direct discrimination against men.”
They added: “The court was saddened by the stories contained in the claimants’ evidence.
“But the court’s role was limited. There was no basis for concluding that the policy choices reflected in the legislation were not open to government. In any event they were approved by Parliament.
“The wider issues raised by the claimants about whether the choices were right or wrong or good or bad were not for the court.
“They were for members of the public and their elected representatives.”
Responding to the ruling, Joanne Welch, from the BackTo60 campaign group, said: “Many women did not find out about the changes to the pension rules until they went to get their pension or were finally sent an official letter 16 years after the changes were made, leaving them with no time to make” alternative financial arrangements.”
She added: “These are not women in their 20s who were ready for a fight: this battle turned women in their 70s into warriors.”
UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “This is a terrible blow for the millions of women who will have been hoping for a very different outcome today.
“The decision to hike the state pension age with next to no notice didn’t just throw their retirement plans up in the air, it also left many women on lower incomes really struggling to make ends meet.
“Now, almost a quarter of a century later, justice and the state pension that was so cruelly snatched away from them remain disappointingly out of reach.
“It seems perverse that the Department for Work and Pensions had no obligation to inform these women of this significant change.
“But despite today’s decision women born in the 1950s will not give up their campaign to get back what they are rightly owed.”
SNP MP Mhairi Black said: “This is a disappointing ruling for the thousands of women who have been fighting tirelessly against pension injustice, but the campaign of 1950s women continues.
“The SNP will continue to stand up for WASPI women against the cavalier attitude of this Tory government who appear hell-bent on short-changing pensioners across Scotland and the whole UK.
“It’s time for the Tories to undertake a full impact assessment on how successive UK governments have disadvantaged WASPI women.
“Once this assessment has been completed, a payment acknowledging any disadvantage caused should be made to 1950s women without delay.
“With the lowest state pension in the developed world and galling pension injustice for 1950s women, it’s clear that the UK government cannot be trusted to deliver for our pensioners.”