Pensions 

Waspi crowdfunds £100k for legal fight

Waspi crowdfunds £100k for legal fight

The Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) campaign has crowdfunded £100,000 in less than three weeks and become a limited company in preparation for a legal challenge against the government, the movement's founders have revealed. 

The proceeds - twice the initial target of £50,000 - will be used to pay the legal fees and costs of challenging the government's changes to the state pension age for women born in the 1950s.

A spokesperson for the Waspi campaign told FTAdviser the decision to become a limited company was made on the advice of their legal representation, London-based law firm Bindman's, because it would make it easier to take action against the government.

"As Women Against State Pension Inequality Ltd, a company limited by guarantee, Waspi can act as a single legal entity, and hence bring an action as an individual body, without the need to join in numerous parties to the legal case," the spokesperson said.

“The fact that the company is limited by guarantee and not shares means that the founders cannot personally benefit from any monies raised.”

Jane Cowley, Waspi fundraising director said: “Women Against State Pension Inequality Ltd want to thank each and every person who has donated to the fund.  It’s inspiring to know that we have such a huge level of support and it is a real validation of our decision to pursue a legal case."

Waspi will use the £100,000 to pursue two potential means of legal redress for women affected by the changes to the state pension age, the spokesperson stated.

The first will be a judicial review challenge, or challenges, to the legality of the changes themselves.

The second would be "maladministration complaints" regarding the Department for Work and Pensions' alleged failure to communicate the changes properly. 

The spokesperson added that Waspi leaders had discussed the campaign with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and with MPs in the Scottish National Party. Both Labour and the SNP had previously pledged support to Waspi. 

While the government has remained steadfast in its refusal to give any ground, the Waspi spokesperson claimed Waspi campaigners were "making themselves heard in Tory marginal seats". 

"With two former Pensions Ministers, Steve Webb and Baroness Altmann now publicly pledging their support, with over 47,500 people following the Official Waspi Facebook page and with £100,000 fighting fund raised in less than three weeks, Waspi is a force to be reckoned with," the spokesperson said.

The campaign's recent successes follow a fractious summer, in which the campaign's five founders split into two factions. Two formed the splinter campaign that is now Waspi Ltd. 

The remaining three - who claimed the split had been a "military style coup" - launched their own Facebook page, called "Waspi Voice". They claimed to have a more pragmatic approach to the supposedly more hardline Waspi Ltd.

james.fernyhough@ft.com

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