IT was with astonishment that I read the article by Margaret Taylor on the subject of pension inequality for women born in the 1950s affected by the Tory government changes in 1995 and 2011 to the age that women receive their pension (“Female pension protestors miss the point over equality”, The Herald December 4).

It is strange that she seeks to defend unpopular Tory government legislation that seeks to deprive women of a certain age of their previous statutory rights.

The fact is that the legislation to move the pension age from 60 back to 66 is causing widespread financial distress to a large number of women throughout the UK and can be seen as part of the austerity agenda that successive Tory governments have pursued over several years. Margaret Taylor states that the overall objective of the Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) campaign is to reverse the pension age changes for women back to 60.

That is definitely not the case as the campaign is focused on obtaining transitional financial relief for the affected women, many of whom are in financial distress as a result of a botched and hasty implementation of the legislation.

The fact is that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) did not write to the affected women at the time the legislation was passed to advise them of the significant changes to the state pension scheme. Evidence of the maladministration and inaccurate communication was publicly exposed on the government website itself, which still had 60 as the retirement age for women as recently as February 2016. At present, there are thousands of cases lodged with the DWP complaining about maladministration and, despite setting up a special unit to consider these complaints, the backlog means that women will have to wait more than two years for their cases to be heard.

Margaret Taylor acknowledges that women generally have smaller pension pots in their retirement than men because they are generally the carers for children and elderly relatives but she does mention that the state pension is a contributory pension scheme and that the affected women joined the state scheme in the 1970s, when the state pension age was set at 60. It is interesting to note that many female nurses, for example, who were members of the NHS pension scheme did in fact receive their pension as promised when they reached the age of 60 but, of course, these occupational pensions are often inadequate now for those who took a substantial career break to look after dependants.

These women are being left by the state to fend for themselves and many are in real financial distress. It is deeply disappointing that a woman, the Prime Minister, should seek to attack this vulnerable section of the population whilst defending what is effectively another botched Tory scheme to deprive ordinary working people of their previous entitlements.

John Smith,

9 Argyle Terrace,