Retirement and me: WASPI woman reveals fears during her ‘daunting’ wait for state pension

Retirement looks different for everyone, with some carrying on working well beyond their state pension age, while others may plan to enjoy a well-deserved rest. For others, pension income may provide the opportunity to explore new avenues. That’s something which Lesley Anne Kinney, 64, had planned to do, when she could claim the state pension.


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Lesley has worked as a specialist painter for more than 30 years, and her work sees her travel across the UK for specialist projects.

She became self-employed back in 2000, and also works as a painter and decorator.

The work proves to be physically demanding, and it often leaves Lesley in pain.

“It’s physically a very hard job and as you get older, you get slower,” she says.

“You can’t do as much work, you get slower and it gets harder.

“I come home some nights in tears because my knees hurt so much. You kneel a lot when you’re painting skirting boards and things like that, and you’re climbing ladders and scaffolds all the time.”

With the repetitive motions causing her excruciating pain, she adds: “Some days I get out of bed and I can hardly walk because my knees hurt so much.”

The self-employed entrepreneur has a number of ventures she hopes to pursue, with these also being less physically demanding.

They’re something which Lesley had hoped to dedicate more time to when she reached her state pension age – which previously stood at 60 for women.

However, changes to the state pension age under the Pensions Act 1995 which were then accelerated under the Pensions Act 2011 has meant this can’t happen just yet.

Lesley now has the state pension age of 66, meaning she will only be able to claim the payment from next year. “I find it daunting,” she says.

She tells she hadn’t realised the age had changed, and it was only as she approached her 60th birthday that she found out it would be more than six years before she could get the payment.

“I mentioned to someone about getting my pension, and they went, ‘No you won’t’,” she recalls.

“I went off to have a look and to be honest, I hadn’t realised until then that I wasn’t going to get it. I’m not sure how I missed out, but I wasn’t aware.”

Lesley hadn’t planned on retiring at state pension age, but she’d hoped the additional income would allow her to pursue different business opporunities.

“I might only paint five days a week but you are constantly working [when you’re self-employed],” she says.

“I’ve gone through my savings trying to keep everything afloat. So, my savings have gone.”

“I was quite upset,” she remembers, as she reflects on finding out the news.

“I was looking forward to it, that little bit of ease, that little bit of fall-back money.”


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Around 25 years ago, Lesley started a pension, but due to living overseas for some time, she was unable to pay into it.

From her pension, she gets around £300 a year.

“When you’re thinking back, you think well I wish I’d thought about getting it [a pension] but I was a single mum and money was tight,” she says.

“It was the last thing you thought about – using what little money you had to put into something like that.”

Lesley doesn’t think she will ever be able to afford to retire.

“I’ll just keep on working, which is why I’m working on businesses that are not very physical,” she explains.

“I am an entrepreneur, I’m always excited by ideas and thinking of things to do.

“I actually love my job, it’s not that I don’t like it. I love painting things and making things look nice. It’s just physcially getting harder and harder.

“You think you’ll last forever. But, no matter how young and fit you are for your age, unfortunately your knees don’t agree with you.”

While pension contributions may be something which many people automatically make these days thanks to auto-enrolment, things were very different in the past – particularly for women when it came to finances.

Lesley looks back. “It really was a different world,” she says, recounting a time when women were refused mortgages on their own wages without a male guarantor.

“When I was first married I couldn’t have a credit card or my own bank account.

“My bank account was joint with my husband and you could only get one with your husband or with your father put on as a guarantor. I don’t think young people realise what it was like.

“That was the world we were brought up in. We weren’t brought up even to think about buying stocks and shares or getting pensions or any of that sort of thing.”

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