Shropshire MP calls for cash now for struggling WASPI women

North Shropshire MP Helen Morgan has called for WASPI women to be given interim payments to help them cope while their full compensation is decided.

North Shropshire MP Helen Morgan has called for WASPI women to be given cash amid the cost of living crisis
North Shropshire MP Helen Morgan has called for WASPI women to be given cash amid the cost of living crisis

The WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) campaign was founded in 2015 to "fight for justice" for all women born in the 1950s affected by the changes to the State Pension Age.

The rising state pension age and its impact on women is one of the issues that is raised most often at Mrs Morgan’s weekly surgeries in North Shropshire.

Last year, the Parliamentary Ombudsman ruled that Government officials were too slow to tell many women they would have to wait longer for their state pension due to the rising age of retirement.

Women up and down the country are set to receive compensation after a major campaign by WASPI activists.

However, many WASPI women are already struggling financially due to not knowing that they would have to wait longer for their state pension as the retirement age increased.

The cost of living crisis is adding to the financial burden and Mr Morgan believes WASPI women deserve support now.

WASPI campaigners outside the House of Commons

Speaking in the House of Commons, the Liberal Democrat MP said: “Last July, the Ombudsman ruled that the Government was too slow to tell many women that they would be affected by the rising state pension age.

"Alongside the cost of living crisis, many of the WASPI women are struggling to get by. Indeed, it's one of the most frequently raised concerns in my weekly surgeries.

“So I wonder if the Secretary of State will commit to an interim payment to women affected by this change while they wait for the final Ombudsman's report to be released?”

Laura Trott, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, refused, saying that it “would not be appropriate to take any further steps at this stage” while the Ombudsman’s investigation is ongoing.

Former Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell has also claimed that not a single minister has met a delegation from the WASPI campaign since 2016, even though Boris Johnson had promised during the 2019 general election campaign to help the women campaigning for compensation over changes to the state pension age.

The MP for Hayes and Harlington added: "Since then more of those women are living in poverty. 200,000 of them have died, and yet not a single minister has met them since 2016. Could I ask whether the minister would be willing to meet a delegation from the WASPI campaign to talk about their plight and find a way forward?"

Former shadow Chancellor John McDonnell. Photo: David Mirzoeff/PA Wire.

Work and pensions minister Laura Trott replied: "I thank the honourable gentleman for his question. I understand where he is coming from, but there is an ongoing investigation. So it'd be inappropriate for me to meet people at this stage."

The impact of the state pension change on women

The 1995 Conservative government’s State Pension Act included plans to increase women’s state pension age from 60 to 65 so that it was the same as men’s.

WASPI agrees with equalisation, but does not agree with the "unfair" way the changes were implemented.

Because of the way the increases were brought in, women born in the 1950s (on or after April 6, 1950 - April 5, 1960) have been hit particularly hard.

WASPI campaigners outside the House of Commons

The WASPI campaign says: "We are angry that we have been treated unfairly and unequally just because of the day we were born.

"Significant changes to the age we receive our state pension have been imposed upon us with a lack of appropriate notification, with little or no notice and much faster than we were promised – some of us have been hit by more than one increase."

WASPI has undertaken extensive research including FOI requests and has discovered that recommendations to give fair notice were ignored.

The Turner Commission recommended 15 years notice, and Saga recommended 10 years. Yet many women report receiving little or no notice.

"As a result, hundreds of thousands of us are suffering financial hardship, with not enough time to re-plan for our retirement," says WASPI.

"Women are telling us that they can’t believe their retirement age has increased by four, five, or six years and they didn’t even know about it!

"With no other source of income (until the 1990s many women weren’t allowed to join company pension schemes, many of us are carers or in poor health) securing work is proving impossible and zero contract hours or Job Seekers’ Allowance is the only alternative for many."

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