‘Sticky wicket’ for Rishi Sunak as WASPI women call for action over state pension compensation

‘Sticky wicket’ for Rishi Sunak as WASPI women call for action over state pension compensation

'She didn't tackle it!' Anne Diamond hits out at Emily Thornberry avoiding discussing WASPI women

Patrick O'Donnell

By Patrick O'Donnell

Published: 22/03/2024

- 15:30

WASPI campaigners are calling out Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservative Party for their reaction to the proposed compensation payment for women affected by state pension age changes

WASPI campaigners are urging the Government to take action after a landmark report said the DWP should pay thousands of women compensation over the handling of state pension age changes

The Tories have not officially responded to the recommendation of compensation in the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO)’s landmark report yesterday.

On a campaign visit to Derbyshire on Friday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the Government would look at the report “carefully” before providing “a considered and thoughtful response”.

Mr Sunak said: “More broadly, what I would say is I want a country where people can actually put in all their lives and have the dignity that they deserve in retirement.”

The report found thousands born between April 6, 1950 and April 5, 1960 could be entitled to close to £3,000 each due to injustices originating from historic changes to the state pension age.

The Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaign warned Mr Sunak “will be on a sticky wicket” at the upcoming local elections and yet-to-be announced General Election.

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Rishi Sunak and WASPI campaigners

Rishi Sunak is being urged to take action following the PHSO's report yesterday


This is because the report highlighted the Government could make its own decision over what the “appropriate remedy” should be to address this injustice.

As such, WASPI campaigners are anxious Mr Sunak’s Conservative-led Government may not follow through with the recommended compensation payment.

The report found that those affected by the equalisation in the state pension age between men and women could be entitled to a level four amount of compensation worth between £1,000 and £2,950.

While this is substantially lower than the £10,000 sum some WASPI women have lobbied for, the campaign has been successful in drawing attention to their cause and having it addressed by the PHSO.

In 2021, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) was found to be guilty of “maladministration” in the ombudsman’s initial report.

This was due to the department not sufficiently informing women of how they would be affected by this change which saw the retirement age raised from 60 to 65 over a short spaced of time.

Some 3.8 million Britons are estimated to have been affected by this hike to the state pension age which is believed to have made many women worse-off in retirement as a result.

Angela Madden, the chairwoman of the WASPI campaign, issued a stern warning to the Prime Minster going into future elections.

She said: “Rishi Sunak will be on a sticky wicket asking for WASPI women’s votes at these local elections – and at the coming general election – unless he heeds the clear instructions of the ombudsman that WASPI women should be compensated.

“MPs of all parties signed up to the case for £10,000 compensation each. The Prime Minister has the power to bring legislation before Parliament which would deliver that, and that is what 1950s-born women now rightly expect.”


WASPI campaigner

WASPI women could be eligible for pay outs due to historic state pension age changes


Ms Madden also took aim at the Labour Party for its immediate reaction to the PHSO’s findings over the state pension age changes.

Earlier today, shadow cabinet minister Emily Thornberry said the Labour party would not commit to the pay out until the Government had put forward its response, which she said should happen “next week”.

Speaking to Sky News, Ms Thornberry said: “It has to be done in the right way. At the moment, we have to make sure that the Government doesn’t wriggle out of this.”

“Labour MPs have long supported the WASPI cause. At this critical moment, we want to see the Labour leadership step up that support, not step back.”

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