WOMEN facing hardship due to state pension changes said it was “better than winning the lottery” after a Conservative council agreed to press the Government to reconsider its move.

Despite opposition from most of North Yorkshire County Council’s executive, campaigners dressed with Suffragette-style sashes cheered as councillors from all parties approved writing to ministers, so that “women do not live in hardship due to the state pension changes they were not told about until it was too late to make alternative arrangements”.

The move comes ahead of a judicial review on May 24 into the handling of raising the pension age for women born on or after April 6, 1951.

A full council debate over whether put the authority’s weight behind a call for a review of the changes – which will see the state pension age for women increase from 60 to 66 next autumn, instead of the initially announced age of 62 – was accompanied by applause and booing from Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaigners in the public gallery.

Introducing the motion, Yorkshire Party councillor Mike Jordan, who quit the Conservative Party earlier this year in protest over the Government’s handling of Yorkshire devolution, told the meeting it did not seem the Conservative government had done anything to address their plight.

He said: “There are women all across the country who are suffering, women who are homeless or are sofa surfing, they have lost everything. They may be single, divorced or their partner has died.

“And what happens locally when they have no state pension, no bus pass or winter fuel allowance. These women then become reliant on family and friends.”

Councillor Helen Grant said women had been left destitute and suicidal by the changes.

She said: “Many women took early retirement. They chose to support struggling children and elderly parents on the basis of receiving their pensions on a certain date only to be well and truly tripped up. “

However, councillors including the authority’s deputy leader Councillor Gareth Dadd called for the facts to be explored in depth by a council scrutiny committee. He said: “Sending a letter based on a ten or 15-minute debate would be wrong. If we accept this motion I think it would set a precedent. This would be committing this authority to getting involved in matters nationally that have no effect on the workings of this authority.”

After members voted to approve the motion, Waspi campaigner Maureen Weetman, of Sherburn-in-Elmet said: “We couldn’t be more happy if we’d won the lottery. We didn’t expect it. I was happy all the people voted with their hearts, not their political backgrounds.”