Letter from Birmingham Labour MPs to Mayor Andy Street

Dear Andy,

Over the past two years we have met women from across the West Midlands who have been disproportionality affected by the changes to the state pension age. In Birmingham, the Birmingham WASPI Group have worked tirelessly to raise awareness on behalf of the estimated 30,000 women across the city affected by the changes. We have been proud to work with this spirited group of women from the beginning when we convened the inaugural Birmingham WASPI meeting and we are sure you are aware of their campaign and, at a national level, the debate in the public arena about the injustice that they face.

Through our discussions with the Birmingham WASPI Group, the sense of grievance among the women affected is clear to see. They are the women who built Birmingham and Britain into the city and nation we live and work in today. They deserve pension justice and at the very least they deserve an acknowledgment of the difficulty they have been placed in and measures to ameliorate their predicament.

Our city has a duty to ensure, whether in work or retired, that we support the women affected by the state pension age changes with free transport. Under the current rules, women do not automatically receive free transport until their pension age. We believe that bringing forward the age at which women affected by the pension age changes could claim their free transport pass would go some way to addressing their grievances and reduce the burden that they are currently saddled with through no fault of their own. Under the powers invested in the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) this proposal could be introduced for women in the West Midlands. From conversations with colleagues we are aware that plans for a similar scheme are already underway in Manchester, due to efforts by the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham.

The WASPI women are under no illusion that a West Midlands scheme such as the one we have outlined will solve all of their problems. Ultimately, it is up to the Government to identify and introduce fair transitional arrangements for women affected by the changes to the state pension age. Nonetheless, in the current absence of such an intervention, and with newly devolved powers available to the WMCA and the Mayor of the West Midlands, the expansion of free travel to the WASPI women would be a step in the right direction.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts on expanding free travel in the West Midlands and discussing how best we can ameliorate the hardship brought upon the women affected by the state pension age changes.

Yours sincerely,

Birmingham Labour MPs