State Pension  

DWP forced to accept hand-delivered Waspi letter

DWP forced to accept hand-delivered Waspi letter

Labour MP Stephen Morgan has hand delivered a letter to new secretary of state for work and pensions, Esther McVey, in an attempt to raise awareness of women who say they didn't received a letter notifying them about changes to the state pension age.

The Portsmouth South MP personally delivered the letter today (23 January) to Ms McVey at the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP).

The Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) movement claimed that while the 1995 Conservative government's Pensions Act included plans to increase the women's state pension age to 65 – the same as men's – the changes were implemented unfairly, with little or no personal notice.

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The group also claimed the changes were implemented faster than promised with the 2011 Pension Act and left women with no time to make alternative plans, leading to devastating consequences.

Mr Morgan said: "Many women born in the 1950s in my constituency and across the country did not receive proper notice of changes to their retirement age.

"This has caused serious financial and emotional hardship for many of them, which is unacceptable. This is a generation known for its work ethic and financial prudence, which makes this situation all the more unjust."

But the pension minister has dismissed calls to help women affected by an increase in the state pension age, saying it would increase inequality.

Guy Opperman, minister for pensions and financial inclusion, said in December in parliament that providing full transitional state pension arrangements to women born in the 1950s would potentially increase inequality.

In its answer to an earlier Waspi petition, the government said that since 1995, it has gone to significant lengths to communicate state pension age changes.

“There will be no further concessions on this issue to avoid placing an unfair burden on working age people,” it said.

However Mr Morgan joins other politicians, such has Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Lloyd, who urged Ms McVey to make helping these women one of her top priorities.

Mr Lloyd, MP for Eastbourne and Willingdon, and frontbench spokesman on work and pensions, said earlier this month that the most practical way of doing so would be for the DWP "to make a sizeable transition payment to each of the affected women to the tune of £15,000 payable immediately, tax-free".

This is not the first solution proposed by Mr Lloyd, who in December called for the government to abandon its plan to cut corporation tax to 17 per cent by 2020 and use that money to help the Waspi women.

Shelagh Simmons and Carolyne Jacobs, joint co-ordinators of Solent Waspi, said: "We are not asking for the pension age to revert back to 60, we are simply fighting for a basic right - the fair implementation and communication of the changes to state pension age."

Mr Morgan added that giving these women "pension credit and an early retirement option are first steps towards justice" that the government could action now.

According to Tom Selby, senior analyst at AJ Bell, Labour needs to come clean about exactly what it plans to do for the so-called Waspi women, and how its plans will be paid for.