DWP boss gives update on State Pension compensation next steps for WASPI women

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Mel Stride MP has said he will return to the House of Commons “when there is something to say” about a decision on whether women born in the 1950s affected by changes to the State Pension age should receive compensation. His comments may confuse some people as the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s report (PHSO) published on March 21 indicated that compensation should be made.

Appearing on Good Morning Britain (GMB) on Monday, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) boss would not be drawn by presenter and former politician, Ed Balls, into confirming any timescale or specific dates for giving WASPI women (Women Against State Pension Inequality campaign) an update on how the UK Government plans to proceed. The PHSO report recommended that Parliament should intervene and “act swiftly” to make sure a compensation scheme is established.

The Ombudsman’s report suggests that compensation at level four of its remedy scale - between £1,000 and £2,950 - could be appropriate for each of those affected.

Ed Balls asked the DWP boss: “Are you going to tell the WASPI women whether they’ll get their compensation? When will that happen? Will it be next week?”

Mr Stride responded: “What I’ve said Ed, and I’ve said this on the floor of the House (House of Commons) is that there will be no undue delay in us coming forward, but I do want to have sufficient time, and there are very strong feelings about this on all sides of the argument incidentally as to whether compensation should be paid or not and I do want to make sure that we get that judgmental call right.

“The Ombudsman of course has also invited Parliament to be part of that process, but we will do this as quickly as we can.”

Ed Balls pushed for a timeframe, highlighting the plight of postmasters and postmistresses across the country impacted by the Horizon scandal and people affected by the contaminated blood scandal.

He said: “The WASPI women will think they’ve been waiting quite a long time and I just wondered will it be in April?”

Mr Stride said: “I've not yet tied down, for the reasons I've given, to a specific moment in time but just to reassure as I did to the House of Commons at the earliest possible opportunity, we will look at this very carefully.”

The GMB presenter pressed for an announcement to be made before the upcoming General Election, but the DWP boss reaffirmed the seriousness of the matter, saying that “proper time is needed to consider a very complex report”.

A six-year investigation by the PHSO concluded that women born in the 1950s, affected by short notice changes to their State Pension age, should be compensated.

In its report published last month, the Ombudsman asked Parliament to identify a mechanism for providing appropriate remedy for those who have suffered injustice, it said: “We think this will provide the quickest route to remedy for those who have suffered injustice because of DWP’s maladministration.”

The Ombudsman has also said that, in addition to paying compensation, the DWP should acknowledge its failings and apologise.

Following the publication of the report, the Ombudsman said the DWP has not acknowledged its failings nor put things right for those affected. Its investigation found that thousands of women born in the 1950s may have been affected.

WASAPI open letter petition

More than 221,000 people have signed an open letter created by Angela Madden, chair of the WASPI campaign, urging Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt MP, to timetable an ‘urgent’ debate and vote in Parliament on compensation for millions of women impacted by changes to the State Pension age.

The full text of the letter to House of Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt MP, reads: “Dear Penny Mordaunt, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman has confirmed that WASPI women are due compensation. But the Department of Work and Pensions refuses to comply.

“The All-Party Parliamentary Group on this issue - which is backed by hundreds of MPs across party lines - has long backed substantial compensation.

“The Commons must urgently have the opportunity to debate and vote on their proposals, and any others that MPs wish to bring forward.

“After all, with 3.5m affected - and one dying every 13 minutes -everyone knows somebody who has been affected by the DWP’s incompetence and neglect of 1950s-born women.”

The WASPI letter can be viewed on Change.org here.