WASPI women ‘deserve justice’ – the DWP faces increased pressure to issue compensation
WASPI Women: Jacob Rees-Mogg says changes were ‘fair’
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The WASPI campaign came into focus in recent weeks, as the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) ruled there were a number of “failings” in how the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) communicated state pension age changes to 1950s women. Following a new state pension act introduced in the mid-1990s, the state pension age for women born in the 1950s was raised from 60 to 65 – and subsequently 66 – to equalise it with men.
In late July, the PHSO ruled actions taken by the DWP from 2005 onwards were not considered good enough.
The Government, it was argued, “failed to make reasonable decisions” with the information it had available to it and the DWP was found to have not communicated with 1950s women with enough urgency about the changes.
Ever since this information was released, the Government has faced pressure to act and compensate the affected women.
Yesterday, Beth Winter, the Labour MP for Cynon Valley, added to these pressures.
Ms Winter explained: “Today I wrote to Thérèse Coffey on behalf of the 3,200 of [the] WASPI campaign women in Cynon Valley.
“Following the findings of [the PHSO], these women may finally receive compensation for this historic injustice.
“These women were deprived of their pension and deserve justice.”
The letter written by Ms Winter said: “I am writing regarding the changes to the state pension age affecting women born in the 1950s.
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“These changes were not communicated properly, and many women did not realise that their state pension age had been raised until they were approaching retirement or, in some egregious cases, had reached their expected retirement age.
“This is unacceptable and means that they were not able to adequately plan for their retirement.
“If they had known about these changes in a timely manner, they could have made different decisions with regards to their careers and finances.
“Many endured, and are still enduring, a reduced quality of life.
“The changes are estimated to affect 4,200 women in my constituency of Cynon Valley according to analysis by the House of Commons Library.
“One thousand six hundred of these women had already reached state pension age by 2019.
“Since being elected, I’ve had correspondence from many constituents who have been affected by these changes.
“It goes without saying that my constituency of Cynon Valley is not wealthy.
“Retirement for these women is dependent on access to the state pension, often as their main source of income in retirement.
“Earlier this year, the PSHO had condemned the Department for Work and Pensions for ‘maladministration’ when it failed to contact women directly after research indicated that the majority of 1950s women did not know their state pension age.
“The PSHO’s decision on whether these women are entitled to compensation is still pending.
“I do hope that a swift and fair decision is reached by the ombudsman. In my eyes, these women have been subjected to unnecessary anxiety, and have suffered hardship during a time of life when they should have been able to enjoy their years of retirement.”
The Government’s views on this issue was recently highlighted by an online petition which called for the state pension to be rolled back to 60, which WASPI is not calling for, for both men and women.
Once the petition hit 10,000 signatories, the Government responded with: “Reducing [the state pension age] is neither affordable nor fair to taxpayers and future generations.”
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