THOUSANDS of women in Essex faced taking on zero hours contracts or relying on Jobseeker’s Allowance after their worlds changed forever.

According to data collected by the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI), more than 100,000 women in Essex have been affected.

The change in pension age has saved the Treasury more than £4 billion but has also forced millions of women to replan their retirement on short notice.

Many had no choice but to return to work and accept zero-hour contracts while being carers or of ill health.

One Essex woman told the Echo: “I was made redundant at 59. What chance did I have of finding a new job for the next seven to eight years, in this ageist society?

“As it happened Covid forced me to go self employed online for a tiny fraction (roughly 5 per cent) of my previous pay.

“It also fails to take into consideration the fact that statistically women remained, at that time, the significant carers of children and elderly or sick relatives whilst also juggling a job. Historically, work absence for reasons of ill children or relatives counted against women in terms of pay, consideration for promotion and other opportunities.”

The woman said she felt generational roles were not factored into the changes, adding: “Obviously yes, of course today’s men play a very significant role but we are talking about a different generation.

“I raised three very young, bereaved stepchildren and two of ‘our’ children as well as working full time, only very briefly once claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance. I simply feel we have been treated very badly and with a very dismissive attitude after decades of commitment.”

Data shows in Basildon and Billericay 4,800 women are affected, South Basildon and East Thurrock 5,610, Rayleigh and Wickford 6,070, Rochford and Southend East 5,580, Southend West 5,220 and Thurrock 5,040, totalling more than 38,000.

Essex-based Christine Manning said: “I was born April 1951 and was still penalised. I had to work nearly an extra two years – one year, 11 months and two days to be exact. I fully support anyone who has lost out.”

According to the campaign group, more than 3.8 million women born between 1950 and 1960 were told little, or not at all, that their pension age had been changed. Since 2015, it claims more than 277,000 women have died, described as a “horrendous statistic” by South Essex campaigner Frances Neil.