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Waspi woman forced to work while husband was ill ‘feared I’d come home to a corpse’

Every time Mandy Jones left her home to go to work, she was plagued with fear over leaving her severely ill and cancer-stricken husband at home alone.

John was forced to retire at the age of 61 after he was diagnosed with severe liver disease which later required him to have an urgent liver transplant which has now left him severely immunocompromised.

“I would leave him at home on the settee and he looked so ill and poorly, I used to worry that I might be going back home to a corpse,” she told i.

“I felt I had to carry on going to work a few days a week as John was too ill to continue working and we only had his pension to live on.”

Ms Jones, 67, who lives in Warwickshire, is one of an estimated Waspi (Women Against State Pension Inequality) who were affected by changes to the state pension age.

Speaking to i, Ms jones said although she has not been hit as hard financially as other Waspi women due to her husband’s police pension, she feels incensed by the injustice of women having to keep working after getting little or no notice about the rise to the state pension from 60 to 66.

Mandy Jones, now 67, felt she had no choice but to go to work when her husband was extremely ill with severe liver disease and feared she'd "come home to a corpse"
Mandy Jones is angered by the injustice Waspi women like her have endured

“We effectively entered into a contract with the government which I’m sure we all feel has been reneged on,” she said. “Times were very different in the 1970s and 1980s and a lot of us were in poorly paid jobs with little or no equality to men in many things including wages for the same jobs.

“We tended to be the sex that for the most part raised the children, ran the home and became, where necessary, unpaid carers.”

Ms Jones explained it was a second marriage for both her and her husband, whom she married in 1996. She has a daughter from her first marriage while her husband has two sons. The couple have eight grandchildren between them.

“I was a mobile hairdresser for many years and then I went into retail when I was 50,” she said. “I was not in particularly well paid jobs, but they fitted in better with the long hours John did as a detective investigating things like murders.

“I didn’t have a private pension as I was never in the situation where I could earn enough to afford one.

“But I thought I would be able to get my state pension at 60 and I got no notification about the changes.”

Mandy Jones, now 67, felt she had no choice but to go to work when her husband was extremely ill with severe liver disease and feared she'd "come home to a corpse"
Mandy Jones says she could have stayed at home more to care for her husband John when he was seriously ill if she had been able to retire at 60 as she initially thought

Ms Jones says her husband first retired in 2006 at the age of 50 after completing 30 years service in the Birmingham police force. He was then headhunted by Warwickshire Police and went to work for them becoming their data protection officer.

However, he was hit by ill health and was diagnosed with severe liver disease. His health deteriorated and at the age of 61, he had to give up work as he was too ill.

Ms Jones was working in retail for a jewellers and cut her hours back to three days a week as her husband’s illness affected his cognitive ability leaving him unable to drive so she had to take him to all his hospital appointments. She herself suffered a heart attack in 2019 and had to have a stent fitted.

A routine MRI scan on her husband’s liver in November 2019 revealed he had liver cancer and due to the state of his liver, doctors told him his only chance for survival was a liver transplant as otherwise he would be dead within months.

It was at this point that Ms Jones used to leave her husband when she went to work terrified that she would come home to discover that he had died.

He was put on the transplant waiting list and underwent a liver transplant in May 2020. Although he has recovered well, he has not been able to return to work as he is immunosuppressed and has also been diagnosed with heart failure due to a congenital condition.

Ms Jones was effectively made redundant from her job in October last year due to the economic climate, but she finally started receiving her state pension in April last year.

“Even though financially, we have not been affected as badly as other people due to my husband getting a police pension, I feel angry that I wasn’t given notice of the change in state pension age.

“If I had been able to retire earlier, I could have been around to care for my husband more when he was seriously ill and not have to worry so much about the prospect of potentially coming home to find he had died while I was at work.

“I am incensed that the Government implemented raising the state pension age for women with little or no notice and caused an impossible situation where millions of low paid women had no chance or time to make up this deficit in earnings.

“I have always paid my taxes and National Insurance along with the other 1950s women and the lack of notice is a real injustice.

“The talk of a meagre token payment of between £1,000 and £3,000 when we have had up to £50,000 taken from us is pathetic.

“So many of us have lost so much more which our pension and retirement could have helped with in terms of time with loved ones.”

Mandy Jones, now 67, felt she had no choice but to go to work when her husband was extremely ill with severe liver disease and feared she'd "come home to a corpse"
Mandy Jones and her husband John in India (supplied)

With the general election coming up, Ms Jones is adamant about one thing: “I certainly don’t want the Conservatives back in power – they have ripped people off and lined their own pockets beautifully.

“But they have left the country in such a mess, I can’t even see how Labour can begin clearing it up and promise things for so many affected people. There’s the post office workers, Grenfell, the infected blood scandal and then the Waspi women. We are all still waiting for justice.”

Angela Madden, chair of Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI), said: “Many women had to make unimaginable sacrifices as a result of the Government’s failure to properly communicate increases to their state pension age.

“Those without private pensions were hardest hit and many, like Mandy Jones, were left scrambling to look for new jobs in their later years, while trying to care for relatives who were desperately ill.

“With a general election now weeks away, WASPI women across the country will be looking to all parties to make a commitment to delivering fair compensation as quickly as possible in the new Parliament.

“With one Waspi woman dying every 13 minutes, we simply cannot afford to wait any longer.”

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