EAST Renfrewshire MP Kirsten Oswald is a columnist for the Barrhead News.

This week she addresses the UK Government's response to SNP calls for pensions justice for women born in the 1950s.

Kirsten Oswald MP

The fallout from the Chancellor’s Spring Budget speech is still being felt – nowhere more so than among members of the WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) campaign.

This group of 1950s-born women have had their retirement plans shredded by the UK Government, who changed their state pension arrangements at short notice.

Astonishingly, the government admits not even telling many of the women they would have to wait years longer than expected to draw their pensions.

When I raised this point last year in the House of Commons, I was told adverts had been placed in financial news pages a few years before and that, if women were interested, they could read Hansard to find out about any changes coming down the line.

This is an unacceptable and astonishingly arrogant way to deal with people, leaving their life plans in tatters.

The WASPI women are not arguing against their pension ages being equal to their male counterparts, as the Tories would have you believe.

However, they feel it is not on for a government to slip in a change that means there are years of difference and tens of thousands of pounds of pensions missing, without even giving them proper notice.

Women have come to constituency surgeries in despair because they have now to work more years than expected before they can collect their pension. They had always been advised of a set retirement date, so to find this had been considerably delayed must have been soul-destroying.

As well as the obvious financial impact, it prevents many women from caring for elderly relatives or young grandchildren because they simply have to keep working.

The WASPI women came to Westminster on Budget day in their hundreds.

All of the budget TV interviews had backgrounds of angry middle-aged women, dressed in purple. This most unlikely protest group is determined to make its voice heard. It was a pleasure to meet them.

The Chancellor had an opportunity to right a wrong and deliver the measures that would give these women the pensions they have rightfully earned yet are unfairly denied. However, at every opportunity, this Tory government has failed to act.

What the UK Government must realise is that pensions are a contract, not a benefit, and the Budget should have shown the UK Government living up to that contract.

Clearly, delivering fair pensions is not a high priority for the UK Government. Despite the Chancellor forecasting increases in inflation, this Budget contained no mitigating measures to future-proof pensioner incomes.

This is yet another sign of a Tory government intent on pursuing a policy of austerity. They have closed their ears to repeated SNP calls to deliver justice for women born in the 1950s, whose lives have been derailed by this nasty pensions surprise.

You can keep up to date with my work via my website at kirstenoswaldmp.scot or sign up for my monthly newsletter by emailing myMP@kirstenoswaldmp.scot.