LibLInk: Christine Jardine: WASPI women offered little hope by Tories or Labour

The ink was barely dry on the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s report on the DWP’s failure to warn women of changes in their State Pension age than Jeremy Hunt was popping up on Sunday’s Kuenssberg programme trying to wriggle out of the Government’s responsibilities to compensate those women.

This issue affects 6 million women born in  the 195os, many of whom had to wait 6 years longer than they had expected to get their State Pension and only found out at the last minute so they had no time to plan accordingly. This has led to them experiencing hardship, poverty and having to work much longer than they had planned.

Christine Jardine, who has been championing the cause of the WASPI (Women against State Pension Inequality) women ever since she was elected in 2017, used her Scotsman column this week to warn that neither the Tories nor Labour have a plan to put this right for the women affected.

She said:

Sadly, there is little optimism for anything other than the inaction that we have come to expect, not just in this issue but in the protracted inquiries and delayed settlements over the infected blood scandal, Hillsborough and so many others. Many of the women too seem unsurprised, if disappointed, at the lack of an immediate definitive outcome. As do those who have campaigned tirelessly for justice for them.

Perhaps we should remember that theirs is a generation which did not enjoy the same protections and equality in their workplace that we do now. That, ultimately, this is about respect. Or the lack thereof. That it is about the treatment of citizens by their government. And basic human decency.

I hope that when the Department for Work and Pensions and Downing Street consider the report, they realise the value of those they seek to represent. And what they have been denied. Then perhaps that statement this week might be a pleasant surprise.

You can read her article in full here (£).

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  • Men had no notice of the European court of justice decision 30 years ago. Given that women live on average 4 years longer than men it could be argued that women should get state pension 4 years later?

  • Mary Fulton 27th Mar '24 - 6:26pm

    I confess I don’t understand why only being given 18 months notice of the change to pension age has led to some woman claiming to be living in poverty. Those woman in employment who had not given any notice of an intention to retire could have simply have carried on working, just as male colleagues of the same ago were having to continue to work. Of course, if they chose to retire, now in full knowledge that they would not get pension for another 6 years, they would have faced poverty because of their decision to retire.

  • The ombudsman’s report is deeply flawed; it totally fails to look at the 10 year run up to the 1995 State Pension Act, where the media was full of the debate around the increases to the state pension age. Firstly the equalisation of entitlement at 65 and secondly the raising to 68~70.
    So the 1995 Act effectively gave a person born in 1950, 15 years notice of the equalisation of state pension entitlement age at 65.
    From my reading of the DWP ombudsman’s report, it seems the complaint is more around the “technicality” of timely communicating to individuals that they would be entitled to their state pension before they reached 65..

  • What is libdem policy on this issue? The article doesn’t say much and the link is behind a paywall

  • What’s the cost & practicalities of any compensation offered ? Would every women get it who would be in that age range . The most dangerous place to be at the minute is stood between a bandwagon & a progressive politician. What’s the solution – how much would the hard pressed taxpayers have to fork out . Are we in favour of reducing that pension age for women ?
    And let’s not forget that many men never get to see that state pension they worked on average 40+years for….

  • Government communication with citizens about their entitlements should not rely on press releases, media articles and interviews with politicians . All women affected should have had this information personally communicated to them. The sudden change in the rules in 2010 just made matters worse.

    It is not correct incidentally to refer to ‘ women born in the 1950s’ as a blanket group. Women born before April 1953 were not affected. [ Full disclosure – I was born before that date]

  • David Allen 29th Mar '24 - 4:03pm

    “Sadly, there is little optimism for anything other than the inaction that we have come to expect, not just in this issue but in the protracted inquiries and delayed settlements over the infected blood scandal, Hillsborough and so many others.”

    “Sadly”, that’s equally true for all the parties. If Government can weasel out of paying compensation for anything at all, Government always does.

  • I have very mixed views on this. As someone young enough to have no idea what the retirement age will be when it’s my turn, I was aware of the changes to pension age. The equalisation of pension age was fair, and for some time I thought it ridiculous that anyone could have missed it.

    However, now I’m a bit older and with more life experience, I realise there are a lot of people who simply don’t watch the news, and a lot of those people are women with family commitments. It does seem an oversight not to have sent letters directly, and required employers to notify the women in the relevant age group.

    There are likely to be some women who suffered because of the lack of adequate notification and arguably we should bite the bullet and provide some compensation. BUT, a lot of the loudest voices demanding compensation come from those who are simply complaining about the increase to pension age. Compensation that would be paid by those of us who’ll have to work even longer.

    There are also plenty of examples of government changes to taxes or benefits where we have to suck it up with little notice, such as the reduction in child benefit.

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