WASPI’s drowning out another minority – those who stayed “in”.


There is a second WASPI petition.

There’s a new #WASPI petition – please sign it! Currently at 11k signatures… How soon 100k? https://t.co/ijhUQohWtk

— Sarah Pennells(@Savvy_Woman) September 13, 2017

The WASPI women are well organised and have a widening support base. They will eventually get a settlement – they represent a broad spread of women disadvantaged by state pension reform – and they are articulate.

There are however other losers from the changes in state pensions. The WASPI claim is against changes in the state pension age flagged well before the move to a single state pension was announced. It is a separate matter to the inequalities created by the merging of the foundation pension and the second state pension in 2016. But, the loud-hailer being used by the WASPI women, is drowning out the meek voices of a much larger group who have no voice.

This blog explains.

I have for this, John Greenwood , who for the past five years has been campaigning for a silent majority of under-pensioned employees who for the past thirty years (since 1987) have chosen to stay in the state earnings related pension (more recently S2P). These people have built up entitlements to SERPS/S2P which will be all but lost when they draw their pensions.

By contrast, those who put two fingers up to SERPS and S2P and chose to contract out via an appropriate personal pension , could  have the same entitlement to the single state pension as they would have done had they stayed in. I am one such person, I know from my state forecast that providing I earn national insurance credits till I am 64, the pension pot I got from my SERPS/S2P rebate will be free money – a reward from the Government for not trusting the Government.

This state of affairs may – in absolute terms – have no losers. Because of the improvements in the single state pension, many people who stayed in will get at least the amount they were forecast back in the day, because of the triple-lock and because of the general upgrading of pensions for those retiring after 2016. But in relative terms , they may feel they have been shafted. John is one of those people.

The sums involved

It’s generally reckoned that with average investment performance and rebates against the full amount of the earnings band against which APP rebates were paid, that someone contracted out from 1987 to today into a personal pension, would have a pot of £100,000. It could be a lot higher with good pot husbandry,

That is an eye-watering amount for someone like John, who tells me he has relatively little private pension rights elsewhere.

Of course, most people will not have nearly this amount,

  • They may not have a full earnings record to maximise input
  • They may have been contracted out for a time through occupational pension schemes  (DB or DC)
  • They may have chosen to contract back in when the initial Government incentive wore out and rebates stopped looking attractive.

But even if you had contracted out rights through an occupational pension, those rights (GMP or protected rights) should be added to your APP to give you a true feeling as to how blessed you are, compared to the likes of John.

John’s decision to trust the Government was expensive, his loyalty cost him £100,000. John rightly considers himself a loser – for his loyalty.

So why is there no WASPI equivalent for those who stayed in?

There are a number of answers to that. The first is that there are very few people who have done the research John Greenwood has done and very few who are financially literate enough to articulate what has happened to him – as he does.

Secondly, there is very little coming out of Government about this problem. The DWP do not want to be fighting another front. WASPI are loud enough.

Thirdly, and this point may anger John, the silent majority will simply accept what they are given and not make a fuss. This is the case for the vast majority of women who are impacted by the cliff-edge in state pension ages for mature women. It will certainly be the case for those who did not vote with their APPs back in the day, sticking two fingers up to Government.

Fourthly, WASPI is a clearly defined group of women between such ages. WASPI is nore than a grievance group, it’s a lifestyle thing.

Finally, we have to accept that in any radical change to state pension reform and both the changes to state retirement age and the change to a single state pension age are radical, there will be winners and losers.

As Andrew Young comments, the self employed win, those who stayed in lose. And there are upsides for those who contract out as this great insight from David Robbins shows.


I suspect that the case that John’s lot – those who stayed contracted in- is at least as strong as that of the WASPI women, but it is very hard to argue that most of those people like John, retiring today have been disadvantaged. While it is very easy for a woman to show that she has been disadvantaged by losing years of pension payments (which happen to be the very years they are now living).

WASPI has produced a cohort of pension experts among women who till the WASPI problem came to light, took no interest in pensions. We will wait and see if a similar group forms for those who remained contracted in. I would not bet against it.

John on the state pension at the Pension Network last week, he spoke under the Chatham House rule but is happy for me to report him as he has made his position public in corporate adviser. If you want to get the full story from a professional journalist, follow these links.




About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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7 Responses to WASPI’s drowning out another minority – those who stayed “in”.

  1. Peter Tompkins says:

    Well written. I am flabbergasted that I will earn a full new state pension now which will mean I get the same as I would have done if I hadn’t contracted out since 1987. I’m pretty angry about it as I don’t need it but others would.

  2. Gerry Flynn says:

    I am confused by your statement “But even if you had contracted out rights through an occupational pension, those rights (GMP or protected rights) should be added to your APP to give you a true feeling as to how blessed you are, compared to the likes of John”. If you were in a pension scheme that was C/out your pension at NRA would include an element in respect of the GMP/Potected Rights. Why would this be added to your APP as you would not have one?

    My wife had a rebate only APP which she converted to a pension a couple of years ago, she is now about to receive her delayed State Pension but have deducted a sum in respect of being C/out, (APP), however, that deduction is greater than the pension she receives from her APP pot, who is liable for the shortfall?

  3. henry tapper says:

    There are a lot of transitional wrinkles Jerry and I think her Contracting Out Deduction (COD) is biting as she hasn’t had time to make good the years she lost when “out”, its those in their 50s who are the really big winners – your wife is just the wrong side of the equation. The performance of the APP is obviously another matter.

  4. gerry flynn says:

    The problem is that a Occupational Pension scheme that was C/out would have the responsibility to make up any shortfall in pension and the GMP if it was higher at State Retirement age. There are two winners and two losers here, winners, Government and Insurance comps, losers Occupational schemes and pensioners
    People should not be used as guinea pigs, the DWP should have thought this through.

  5. S thomas says:

    I declare an interest- I am a WASPI lady! What has angered me and many other WASPIs is the number of changes that are being made to pensions, the short notice at which they have been introduced and the lack of information given to women in our age group. The changes include not only putting back the SP age but the increase in contribution years needed for a full pension from 30 to 35; the abolition of the widow’s/widower’s pension and the whole issue around contracted out employment.

    When my husband was medically retired I worked on for a few years but then decided to take early retirement to spend more time with him. In doing so I took a big actuarial reduction in my work pension (my choice). What I wasn’t prepared for was that after I retired (pre 2011) the government would put back my pension age a second time and increase the contribution years and that after waiting an extra 5 years I would still get the old pension rate. Whilst you are correct to say that buying extra years represents good value, many Waspis have too little time between 2016 and our SPA to buy much extra pension even if they could afford to.

    There are still many women who remain unaware of the changes to their SPA. This is due in no small part to them struggling with working and caring duties (elderly parents/in-laws/grandchildren) leaving them no time to read newspapers or go on-line.

  6. John Greenwood says:

    Thanks for sharing Henry. And the other point is that the reason we have done the whole state pension reform is to create a flat platform for autumn enrolment. Yet most of the auto enrolment target market are contracted in, and therefore losers. Most of those in the Turner Review target group tiring in the next 20 years will not replace their lost state second post pension with their AE pots.

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