Jeremy Corbyn pledges support to ‘Waspi women’

Jeremy Corbyn pledges support to ‘Waspi women’

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will seek to address the grievances of the Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) campaign, as he fights to retain the leadership of his party, his office has confirmed.

The confirmation came after Mr Corbyn put the issue at the centre of his pensions policy during a BBC televised debate with his challenger Owen Smith on Wednesday (17 August).

When asked his position on the triple lock guarantee on the state pension, Mr Corbyn said he would “obviously want to keep that”.

He went on: “I would also want to deal with the issue of the women who have been short-changed by the increase in retirement age [and] ensure that they are given proper transitional payments, otherwise known as the Waspi women.”

FTAdviser contacted Mr Corbyn’s office for confirmation that he would seek to address the Waspi women’s grievances.

A spokesperson responded: “This is an issue that Jeremy wishes to address, which is why he brought it up. We will be addressing it in more [detail] later in the campaign.”

Launched in 2015, the Waspi campaign seeks compensation for what it views as unjust treatment of women born in the 1950s, resulting from changes to the state pension age.

The changes were made in two acts of parliament, the first in 1995, the second in 2011.

The 1995 legislation pushed the pension age up, in cohorts, from 60 to 65. Women born in 1951 would receive the pension at 61, women born in 52 would receive it at 62, and so on, ending at age 65. This brough women’s pension age in line with that of men.

The 2011 Act, however, pushed the date for women born in 1954 back further, some by as much as 18 months.

While the Waspi campaign accepts retirement age must rise in line with that of men, it claims the the changes were made “with little or no personal notice” with respect to both acts, “faster than promised” with respect to the 2011 Act, and gave them “no time to make alternative plans”.

As yet, Mr Corbyn has not explained exactly how he will seek to address these grievances.

However, the campaign itself is not unified in its demands. Earlier this month the Waspi campaign split, with two of the five founders taking over the campaign in what the three others described as a “military-style coup”.

The new leadership of the group will seek compensation for losses resulting from both the 1995 and 2011 acts. The remaining three Waspi women told FTAdviser they were “more flexible” than the other two in what they were willing to accept from government, but were yet to lay out their precise demands.

A third group of women, separate from the Waspi campaign, is seeking changes to rules that exclude women born between 1951 and 1953 from receiving the new flat-rate state pension.

Former pensions minister Ros Altmann recently told FTAdviser the Waspi campaign’s chances of success under a Conservative government were slim. She said her efforts to take up the campaign’s cause in parliament and the Department for Work and Pensions were met with “total intransigence”.