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Stone determined to fight WASPI women's case

By Matt Leslie

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Liberal Democrat candidate Jamie Stone has given his backing to the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) group which is fighting to be compensated for money owed to retired women.

More than 3.8 million women born between April 6, 1950, and April 5, 1960. were affected by a change in state pension age from 60 to 65 whereby those women were unable to retire.

Those who had been expecting to retire at 60 found themselves facing unemployment, with many having to take zero-hours contract jobs to make ends meet.

For women born between December 1953 and October 1954, this change hit the hardest as they had to wait an extra 18 months before they could eventually retire.

When quizzed about this on the BBC's Question Time programme last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "We have looked at it but it is very expensive to come up with the solution you want. It is not possible to satisfy all the demands of the WASPI women and I hold my hands up."

It is quite clear they have an extraordinary case.

The Liberal Democrat manifesto says: "Everyone should have enough to live on when they retire.

"We will ensure that the women born in the 1950s are properly compensated for the failure of the Government to properly notify them of changes to the state pension age, in line with the recommendations of the parliamentary ombudsman."

Mr Stone, who is hoping to retain his far north seat at next month's general election, insisted that Mr Johnson's explanation wasn't good enough.

He said: "Since the first day I was elected, WASPI women who have lost out have come to see me about this.

"It is quite clear they have an extraordinary case and for that reason I have supported their cause throughout my time in parliament, meeting with WASPI women, writing to ministers and speaking in debates.

"The WASPI case is a fundamental unfairness and many of my friends are caught in this trap. I am determined to fight their case."

The SNP candidate for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, Karl Rosie, took issue with Mr Stone over his position on the WASPI issue.

Mr Rosie said: “It is a bit rich from Mr Stone to finally find his voice on the WASPI issue having failed to do more when it mattered, when he was in parliament. It’s likely he felt the need to avoid the subject as he knows it was a Lib Dem minister who steered the 2011 act that increased women’s pensionable age.

"His party in government punished 1950s women. Scotland’s choice at this election is to create circumstances to address these and many other social justice issues.

“It’s fair to say that I think Mr Stone could have done so much more and has failed to do so.”

Mr Rosie said it was important to fight for the WASPI women cause at Westminster. "If elected, that is what I will do, as well as working for Scottish independence which would allow us to right this wrong ourselves,” he said.

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