DWP issues WASPI State Pension compensation update as millions await pay-out

A recent report has recommended a pay-out of between £1,000 and £2,950 for those affected
A recent report has recommended a pay-out of between £1,000 and £2,950 for those affected -Credit:Getty Images

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has issued an update on looking into compensation for millions of WASPI women at the "earliest possible opportunity".

A report published by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) last month said that women born between April 1950 and April 1960 are "owed" money because increases in the State Pension age, from 60 to 66, were not communicated properly. Some women were notified of the change to their pension age less than a year before they had been expecting to retire at 60, which left them without enough time to adjust their savings plans, the ombudsman found.

The report follows a five-year investigation into alleged failures at the DWP, and comes nearly a decade after the Women Against State Pension Inequality campaign group - or WASPI for short - launched a campaign for compensation. In a latest update from Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Mel Stride, the Daily Record reports.

During an episode of Good Morning Britain earlier this week, presenter 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?"

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 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 asked: "The WASPI women will think they've been waiting quite a long time and I just wondered will it be in April?"

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".

Recommending that Parliament should "act swiftly" to establish a compensation scheme, the PHSO used a severity of injustice scale to determine a financial payment that it believes is appropriate and proportionate. The scale has six levels of payment, and the PHSO has recommended a Level 4 pay-out of between £1,000 and £2,950 to recognise the "significant" and "lasting impact" suffered by many women.

If the Government agrees to this compensation level, it could mean a total cost to the taxpayer of between £3.5 billion and £10 billion. But the DWP has argued that compensation at Level 3, below £1,000, would be "consistent" with previous pay-outs made to claimants.

However, following the report WASPI chairwoman Angela Madden called for a "proper compensation package" at level six, which stands at £10,000 or more. "The report at least finds that level four compensation is required, but politicians across party lines have previously supported level six - which would far more clearly and reasonably recognises the injustice and loss of opportunities suffered," she said.

The report said the women affected should have received a letter informing them of the changes up to four years earlier than they did. If you are a woman born between April 1950 and April 1960, you can use our interactive calculator to see when the ombudsman says you should have been notified of the changes to your pension.