State Pension  

Fight for compensation goes on

Women Against State Pension Inequality is calling for fair transitional arrangements for all the women affected. 

Angela Madden, finance director and chair of Waspi, says: “We are campaigning for some sort of compensation payment to recognise the distress and loss caused to all these women. 

“We don’t expect it to be for £160 a week that the pension is now, but we would like a good percentage of that to tide us over, because we expected our pension at 60.” 

Backto60 has launched a crowdfund to appeal the High Court’s rejection of its case, while Waspi has lodged its complaint with the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

Baroness Ros Altmann, a former pensions minister, says: “I have always feared that a discrimination case would be very hard to win in this situation. The policy change was supposed to be about gender parity.”

While the judicial review was under way, the PHSO had to take a pause in looking into Waspi’s complaint, but with court proceedings finished for now, it is back on the ombudsman’s table.

The PHSO has the power to decide whether the Department for Work and Pensions is guilty of maladministration and, if so, to recommend redress. 

So far Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to look into the case, while DWP secretary Thérèse Coffey is set to meet with Conservative MP Tim Loughton and Labour MP Carolyn Harris, co-chairs of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on State Pension Inequality for Women, in “due course”.

Speed of change

Helen Morrissey, pensions specialist at Royal London, says: “It is absolutely right the state pension age is equalised, but these changes have happened very quickly. 

“It is hard not to have sympathy for these women. The Waspi women were massively disadvantaged because women coming into the workforce now are being auto-enrolled into a pension. With the cohort of women born in the 1950s, a lot were not encouraged to save into a pension and some were not allowed to.

“For us as providers it is making sure we get the message out about preparing well in advance for retirement.”

Tom Selby, senior analyst at AJ Bell, says: “Given that the country is careering headlong into a general election and the opposition parties have pledged as yet unspecified help for the women affected, lobbying the Conservative Party that is pursuing an increasingly populist agenda could prove effective.

“While the fight continues in practical terms, those who face an income shortfall have limited options. Some will continue to work longer, while there has also been a spike in the number claiming out-of-work benefits. Others may have been in the luckier position of having other sources of income to live off while they wait to receive their state pension.”