THE SHOCKING toll of women in the Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch area who could lose up to £40,000 because of the government's abrupt change in state pension age is more than 20,000, new figures show.

But it could also affect local MPs, a campaigner has warned, because those women also represent votes which could be a threat to the majorities or seats of MPs who don't support them.

The women are part of a group born in the 1950s affected by last week's High Court ruling that rejected a challenge against controversial changes to the state pension age which saw some women unable to claim a state pension for up to six years later than they would have done.

Approximately 22,600 women in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole were born within that period, according to the latest population estimates. And well over half of them are yet to hit their state pension age.

If the change had been reversed at the High Court, the government would have been forced to compensate nearly four million UK women who lost out financially.

The women are now campaigning for MPs to sign an Early Day Motion to reverse the situation which has left millions of women facing a bleak financial future.

And, says the leader of a campaign to reverse the 'horrendous' change, their numbers mean that MPs in the area could find their seats in jeopardy as women choose to 'use their votes wisely'.

Spokeswoman for the BackTo60 campaign, Joanne Welch, said: "Many of these women in Dorset have already written to us and have contacted their MP.

"If I were an MP I would be looking at those figures and looking at the impact of the stealth change and helping those affected. I would do everything I possibly could in parliament, and thinking that in a general election I would like to retain my seat or be elected if I was a new candidate."

Nearly four million women born between April 6 1950 and April 5 1960 have been affected by the changes, made by successive governments, to raise the state pension age for women from 60 to 66.

Campaigners say the rule change is unfair because of the way women's work and finances differ from those of men. They are also angry because they say they were not given clear and sufficient warning - at least one advert announcing the changes had a picture of two dogs and did little to alert women to the fundamental change, it has been alleged.

Initial government plans would have seen the pension age rise in phases, from 60 in 2010 to 65 in 2020. But in 2010, the coalition government accelerated the plans, raising the retirement age to 65 in 2018 and 66 by 2020.

Two women – Julie Delve, 61, and Karen Glynn, 63 – took the Department for Work and Pensions to the High Court with the support of campaign group Backto60.

They argued that raising the pension age had unlawfully discriminated against them on the grounds of age and sex, and that they were not given adequate notice of the changes.

But High Court judges Lord Justice Irwin and Mrs Justice Whipple dismissed the claim "on all grounds".

In their ruling, the judges stated: "We are saddened by the stories we read in the evidence lodged by the claimants. But our role as judges in this case is limited.

"The wider issues raised by the claimants, about whether these choices were right or wrong or good or bad, are not for us; they are for members of the public and their elected representatives.

"There was no direct discrimination on grounds of sex, because this legislation does not treat women less favourably than men in law.

"Rather, it equalises a historic asymmetry between men and women and thereby corrects historic direct discrimination against men."

Campaign group Women Against State Pension Inequality argues the changes have caused financial hardship for hundreds of thousands of women, who may struggle to find suitable employment.