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History of CESPA

Campaign for Equal State Pension Ages


History input by John Taylor - from transcript, dated 1st July, 1996 - provided by David Yarwood, Founder Secretary, CESPA (founded 29th August 1986)


This summer (1996) CESPA celebrates its tenth birthday. After ten years of tilting at government obfuscation, it is gratifying that this tenth year should be crowned by our success in the European Court in the prescription charge case. Moreover, there is a good chance that a similar favourable ruling will be given by the Court, possibly also sometime this summer, in the bus-pass case, which CESPA was instrumental in initiating and has staunchly supported.


So how did CESPA start?


The impetus really came from the European Court of Justice ruling in February 1986 in the Marshall case that employment retirement ages for men and women had to be the same. The UK then had the situation that retirement ages had to be equal but pension ages didn't have to be. This was an absurdity since, for most people, retirement is synonymous with pension.


The UK Government subsequently responded to the ruling with the 1986 Sex Discrimination Act which amended the earlier 1975 Act so that compulsory retirement ages for men and women in the same organisation had to be equal (from 7th November 1987). But still the Government did nothing about pension age, either in the state scheme or in occupational pension schemes.


Following the ruling in the Marshall case, various people took up the issue of inequality in pension age, including letters to the press, e.g. those from Joe Feely of London published in The Guardian on 3rd April 1986 and from Sam Watt of Glasgow published in The Glasgow Herald on 8th April 1986.


However, it was independent actions of five persons in particular that led some months later to the birth of CESPA. These actions comprised essentially contact with the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) by three of these persons and letters published in the national press by the other two.

 

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