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WASPI women win state pension compensation as DWP told ‘do the right thing’ | Personal Finance | Finance

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A report that has been eagerly awaited on how women born in the 1950s were affected by increases in the state pension age was published today.

The five-year investigation by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) looked into alleged failures at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) over the way pension changes were communicated to women. The Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) have campaigned for years for financial compensation and today’s report was the decider of if compensation should be paid.

The report confirmed the Ombudsman did find a failure by the DWP, noting that “too many” people didn’t understand how the new state pension affected them personally and ruled that “women affected are owed compensation payments”. PHSO chief executive Rebecca Hilsenrath, said the PHSO is now asking Parliament to intervene and allow compensation payments to be made.

The ombudsman highlighted that the DWP has never officially acknowledged any failings regarding WASPI women’s state pensions. It also flagged that the pensions department has indicated it “won’t comply” with the compensation recommendations, reports the Mirror.

Ms Hilsenrath said: “The UK’s national Ombudsman has made a finding of failings by DWP in this case and has ruled that the women affected are owed compensation. DWP has clearly indicated that it will refuse to comply. This is unacceptable. The Department must do the right thing and it must be held to account for failure to do so.”

“Complainants should not have to wait and see whether DWP will take action to rectify its failings. Given the significant concerns we have that it will fail to act on our findings and given the need to make things right for the affected women as soon as possible, we have proactively asked Parliament to intervene and hold the Department to account.”

Chairwoman of the WASPI campaign, Hilary Simpson, announced that although the group “welcomed” the findings it was “scandalous” that the DWP had refused to accept maladministration. She stated that the group had concerns over the amount of compensation affected individuals might get and would be requesting Parliament to look at a higher level of compensation that is “both fair and fast to implement.”

She declared: “We expect all political parties to make a clear statement of their position on this issue after considering the Ombudsman’s report. With an election in sight before the end of the year, WASPI women need to know where the Government and the Opposition parties stand.”

Rebecca Long-Bailey MP, who is the Vice-Chair of the State Pension Inequality for Women APPG, spoke out: “So many of these women have been plunged into poverty in the years since that outrageous decision. These women were betrayed. Too many have already died waiting for justice. The UK Government must right this historic wrong, and go beyond the recommendations of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman and deliver fair compensation to these women as a matter of urgency.”

A spokesperson from the DWP talked to the Mirror and said they will “consider the Ombudsman’s report and respond in due course”. They also mentioned that the department had “cooperated fully throughout this investigation.”

The spokesperson added: “The Government has always been committed to supporting all pensioners in a sustainable way that gives them a dignified retirement whilst also being fair to them and taxpayers. The state pension is the foundation of income in retirement and will remain so as we deliver a further 8.5% rise in April which will increase the state pension for 12 million pensioners by £900.”

What is the WASPI group?

The WASPI movement started in 2015 and it stands up for women born in the 1950s. This group says that the Government didn’t tell millions of women properly that they would have to wait longer for their state pension because of age changes.

In 1995, the Government said it would raise the women’s state pension age from 60 to 65, to match the men’s. At first, the change was to happen slowly between 2010 and 2020.

But in 2011, the coalition Government sped up the change to save money for the state pension system.

The new pension age for women came in 2018. There were further increases under the Pensions Act in 2011, which made the age 66 for everyone from 2020.

The WASPI group claims this affected around 2.6million women.

The group says poor communication over the changes left them with “insufficient time” to prepare for up to six years longer without their pension. Some women only found out months before turning 60.

This caused them lasting financial problems as well as impacts on their health and emotional well-being.

The campaign group says the women affected have missed out on up to £50,000 due to the increase in the age limit. Since launching its campaign, the group estimates more than 270,000 who were impacted have died – an average of one every 13 minutes.

If the Ombudsman finds something wrong, they can say what should happen next, which might mean giving people money. How much money people get depends on how bad the problem was, and this is worked out on a scale from one to six, with six being the worst.

The Ombudsman thinks WASPI ladies should get money at level four. This means these women could get between £1,000 and £2,950.

But this is a lot less than the £10,000 the WASPI group wanted.

The report shared: “We have explained our thinking about where on our severity of injustice scale the sample complainants’ injustice sits. We would have recommended they are paid compensation at level Four of the scale.”

The Ombudsman has a guide that shows how serious things are and how much money they give for each level.

Angela Madden, the chair of WASPI, responded to the findings by saying that politicians from all parties have previously supported Level Six compensation. She said: “This would far more clearly and reasonably recognise the injustice and loss of opportunities suffered.”

“We are now looking to those who have supported us over the years to put their money with their mouth is and back us on a proper compensation package. All the parties are now in the spotlight with WASPI women watching and waiting to see how they should best use their votes in the coming general election.”

The Ombudsman hasn’t explained how the DWP should compensate the WASPI women, but said Parliament needs “to act swiftly and make sure a compensation scheme is established”. The PHSO said this would “provide women with the quickest route to remedy.”

However, the report noted that based on what the pensions department told its authors during the investigation, the ombudsman “strongly doubts it will provide a remedy” and “given the scale of the impact” of the DWP‘s maladministration, it is “taking the rare but necessary step of asking Parliament to intervene”.

The DWP has not officially confirmed whether a compensation scheme will be put in place however did confirm that it would consider the report and respond in due course.



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