Pensions 

Labour supports Waspi cause, but offers no solution

Labour supports Waspi cause, but offers no solution

A Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn would take seriously the grievances of women affected by changes to the state pension, the shadow minister for work and pensions has said.

However, speaking at the Labour Party conference in Liverpool, Debbie Abrahams did not make any commitments on how Labour would redress what she called the "injustice" inflicted on women born in the 1950s.

Ms Abraham's comments refer to changes to the law made in 1995 and 2011 that gradually lifted the state pension age for women from 60 to 66.

Many women were caught unawares by the changes, which led to the formation of the Women Against State Pension Inequality, or "Waspi", campaign.

In a speech that was otherwise light on pension policy, Ms Abrahams said: "While I am proud of the last Labour government’s success at reducing pensioner poverty, women and the lowest paid remain at high risk of falling into poverty in their retirement.

"This injustice is being extended to 2.6m women born in the 1950s, who have been short-changed by this Government bringing forward their state pension age."

Her words followed similar comments made by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in August, in a televised debate with his then-leadership challenger Owen Smith.

Mr Corbyn said he would "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."

Mr Corbyn’s office later confirmed that the issue was one that "Jeremy wishes to address, which is why he brought it up. We will be addressing it in more [detail] later in the campaign."

So far Labour has provided no policy details.

The Scottish National Party has also been a vocal supporter of the Waspi campaign. Last week the party released a research paper exploring five possible solutions to the issue, and arguing that the grievances could in part be resolved at a cost of £8bn.

Despite the momentum generated by the Waspi campaign, the Conservative government has stood firm on the changes it brought in.  

The Waspi campaign, however, is not united in its demands, having split into two factions in August in what one of the factions called a "military-style coup".

james.fernyhough@ft.com