WASPI campaign moves forward
By Diane Cooke
Tatton MP, Esther McVey has replaced David Gauke as secretary of state for work and pensions as part of Prime Minister Theresa May’s new year cabinet reshuffle.
One of her most pressing tasks is to examine the case of the WASPIs (Women Against State Pension Injustice) - women across the UK who have been adversely affected by the increase in the age they qualify to receive their pension. These women are calling on the next government to properly compensate them.
The campaign brought in lawyers in 2016 to craft a case against the government over the state pension age changes.
Stephen Lloyd, the Liberal Democrat MP for Eastbourne and Willingdon, has urged the new pensions minister to fight on behalf of the WASPI women saying: “It’s clear that all the political parties in government comprehensively failed these women. A lamentable lack of communication right from the original pensions act in 1994 has left many of them feeling let down, ignored and totally under-valued. This injustice must be urgently addressed.”
The MP claims that the necessary cash for this could be found by delaying proposed cuts to corporation tax (from 19% to 17% in 2020) for one year.Labour had pledged to compensate women born in the 1950s whose state pension age changed without fair notificationand reject a rise in state pension age beyond 66 after 2020.
The SNP has commissioned research into the best way of compensating these women. Former Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron backed a "fair transitional arrangement" for women affected.
But the Tory party has not put forward any offer of compensation.
In September Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Debbie Abrahams made a pledge in her conference speech to allow 1950s women to retire “up to two years early.”
Writing for iNews, Jane Cowley, WASPI Communications Director, said: "As Debbie rightly pointed out in her speech, there has been a real human cost of this mismanagement. Some women have used up all their savings and are living off the kindness of family and friends. Others are now reliant on their partners for support when they should be financially independent after having made over 35 years of NI contributions.
"Despite Debbie’s supportive words, we are hugely disappointed by her pledge and the proposals which were previewed in the press earlier in the day. These measures would not provide a solution for all the 1950s women who have suffered because of a lack of notification of the 1995 and 2011 Pension Acts."
The issue was debated in the Commons in December when Labour MP Grahame Morris said: "What we and the campaign are asking for, as set out in the motion, is simple: a non-means-tested bridging pension. That would mean that some 3.8 million women would not have to live in poverty. The pension would be paid as a percentage of the full state pension, with compensation offered over the period between the age of 60 and the new state pension age."
The resolution passed was "That this House calls on the Government to publish proposals to provide a non-means tested bridging solution for all women born on or after 6 April 1950 who are affected by changes to the State Pension age in the 1995 and 2011 Pension Acts."