Derbyshire woman hails step forward for WASPI campaign after watchdog rules against DWP in pensions battle
A Derbyshire woman has welcomed a landmark ruling by a parliamentary watchdog in the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaign.
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman recently found that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) were too slow to tell many women they would be affected by the rising state pension age.
It brings the prospect of compensation closer for the millions of women born in the 1950s who did not have enough time to make alternative arrangements for their retirement and marks a significant victory for the WASPI campaign which has faced has faced a long, uphill battle since it was founded in 2015.
Angela Madden, 67, from Wadshelf, is chair of the WASPI campaign and has welcomed the landmark ruling.
She said: “The findings reinforce what we, unfortunately, knew all along; that the DWP failed to adequately inform 3.8 million 1950s-born women that their state pension age would be increasing.
"These women have been waiting for many years for compensation. We cannot wait any longer. We are calling on the government to agree fair and adequate compensation rather than allow what has become a vicious cycle of government inaction to continue."
The Pensions Act 1995 agreed the state pension age for women would increase from 60 to 65 between April 2010 and 2020, with the coalition government extending this to 66 in the 2011 Pensions Act.
However, the ombudsman report published on July 20 confirmed the DWP "did not get it right" in terms of making women aware of these changes from 2005 onwards.
Amanda Amroliwala, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman CEO, said: “After a detailed investigation, we have found that DWP failed to act quickly enough once it knew a significant proportion of women were not aware of changes to their State Pension age.
"It should have written to the women affected at least 28 months earlier than it did. We will now consider the impact of these failings, and what action should be taken to address them.”
The ombudsman considered six sample cases, but said the DWP should apply any subsequent recommendations to all of those affected.
Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins said the ruling was a ‘major step’ in the campaign for compensation.
"I have been a proud supporter of the WASPI women for years, and I have seen the devastating financial and emotional impact of the Government’s unfair changes to their pensions,” he said.
"The Ombudsman has made it clear that there was maladministration from the DWP and this has had an unfair impact on millions of hardworking women.
"The manner in which the WASPI women were treated has left them at a massive disadvantage, costing many over £30,000 from their pensions as a result. Now the Ombudsman has reached a verdict, they will assess the impact of this gross injustice and make recommendations on how the Government should put things right.
"But the government must acknowledge that with every year that goes past some WASPI women die having never received their full entitlement, whilst others struggle on, unable to live the quality of retirement they should have been entitled to.
"This is a major step in the campaign, but not the end of the fight. I will continue to proudly support the WASPI women in this fight.”