View the article online at http://citywire.co.uk/money/article/a878956
Altmann hits out at 'hateful' state pension campaign bullying
Pensions minister Ros Altmann has accused the Women Against State Pension Inequality campaign of bullying her.
Pensions minister Ros Altmann has accused the Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) campaign of bullying her.
The Waspi campaign was set up in April last year in a bid to oppose the government's programme of state pension age equalisation, enshrined in the 1995 Pensions Act but accelerated in a further 2011 Act.
At the time the latter was being debated, Altmann called on the government to think again, saying the subsequent delays in female state pension age would leave hundreds of thousands of women without sufficient time to make up income shortfalls.
But Waspi supporters have criticised Altmann on social media for not supporting them since she became a minister in May last year.
Altmann told The Telegraph she had been bullied and insulted by the campaign, and that it had distributed her email address to supporters.
‘I can’t begin to describe how hurtful and hateful the comments about me have been. The insults and the bullying of the campaigners have really shocked me,’ she said.
'These women have emailed me horrid and vile messages, such as hoping I get struck down with cancer, that I’m a traitor, a turncoat and that I’ve sold my soul to the devil. 'I’ve found it very, very distressing. I’m not looking for sympathy but I’ve been bullied, I’ve been insulted and I’ve been vilified. As someone who has spent my life trying to help people with their pensions, I’ve never seen a campaign that seems to be so personal.’
The Waspi campaign is calling for ‘fair transitional arrangements’ for women born in the 1950s affected by the changes. The topic has now been debated three times in parliament.
But Altmann has insisted that the campaign’s aims are not what they seem.
‘This campaign isn’t about equality. It’s actually advocating state pension inequality. The pension changes simply bring women into line with men. It doesn’t make sense for women to be expecting to get their state pensions before men can claim theirs. Why do they think they are a special case?’
‘Waspi has been misleading people into thinking that they are calling for something reasonable when actually they are not. It would cost £2 billion to give this group of women what the campaign is asking for. Where do you stop?’ she added.Waspi co-founder Anne Keen has denied the campaign is responsible for any abuse, and that the email address distributed was already publicly available.
‘Waspi is not responsible for any abuse and we certainly do not condone any personal attacks on Ros Altmann,’ she said.
‘I gave out an email address that was publicly available on her website to a few thousand Waspi followers. I did not do that with any ill intent. We’ve asked our supporters to keep their emails respectful at all times.’
‘Ros contacted me to say she had received abuse and asked me not to give out her email again and I have not done so.’
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