Millions of WASPI women could get compensation answer by July

The Department for Work and pensions (DWP) could give millions of WASPI women an answer on their demands for compensation by July.

Sir Stephen Timms, chair of the parliamentary committee overseeing the government department, has penned a letter to Secretary of State Mel Stride, urging immediate action to address compensation for women born in the 1950s who were impacted by State Pension inequality before Parliament's summer recess. It is estimated that around 400,000 women in the North West are awaiting compensation.

The long-running Women Against State Pension Inequality campaign has submitted evidence to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) detailing the financial injustices. After a comprehensive six-year investigation, the PHSO released its final report on March 21, which criticized the DWP for not adequately informing women about changes to their State Pension age and concluded that they are entitled to some form of compensation.


Following these conclusions, the Ombudsman has called for Parliament to "act swiftly" to establish a compensation scheme. In his letter, Sir Stephen urges the UK Government to "bring forward proposals for a remedy by the summer recess." Parliament is scheduled to adjourn for the summer on July 23.

The letter notes: "As you are aware, the PHSO laid its report before Parliament on March 21 2024, asking Parliament to 'identify an appropriate mechanism for providing remedy' for women born in the 1950s who have suffered injustice because of DWP's maladministration in its communication of increases in their State Pension Age (SPA) legislated for in the Pensions Act 1995."

"In a one-off evidence session on the issue on May 7, we were reminded of the need for urgent action, given that the ombudsman started to look at this issue in 2018 and that every 13 minutes a woman born in the 1950s dies."

The PHSO recommended compensation equivalent to Level 4 on its banding scale - between £1,000 and £2,950. However, the WASPI Campaign and some MPs, including SNP's Alan Brown, are pushing for the maximum compensation (Level six) - starting at £10,000.

But the Labour MP clarified that the Committee has "not sought to question the PHSO's proposal for compensation at level 4, but instead have focused on what a remedy might look like".

Sir Stephen elaborated: "The evidence we received indicated support for a rules-based system. This would be a system where payments would be adjusted within a range (based on the PHSO's severity of injustice scale) to reflect the extent of change in the individual's state pension age and the notice of the change which the individual received."

"This would mean that the less notice you had of the change and the bigger the change in your SPA, the higher the payment you would receive."

"While not perfect, the advantages of such a system are that it would be: quick to administer; applying known data to a formula to determine the amount due; and relatively inexpensive."

The letter also called for some leeway for individuals to argue their case on a personal basis, after receiving the payment through the rules-based system, if they suffered direct financial loss and are entitled to more compensation.

It pointed out testimony from Angela Madden, chair of the WASPI Campaign, who had informed the Committee that women's divorce settlements were calculated based on a pension age of 60, resulting in them receiving less money.

Furthermore, the letter stated: "Implementing a remedy will need parliamentary time, financial resources, and the data and technical systems only available to your department."

"It cannot happen without Government support. We would ask you to bring forward proposals for a remedy by the summer recess."

Sir Stephen, commenting on the letter, said: "The debate over the impact of the DWP's failure to communicate increases in the women's state pension age has dragged on for too long and it is time the Government took action to resolve the issue."

"There is no perfect solution, but there would seem to be broad support for a rules-based system of compensation with a degree of flexibility for cases where women have experienced direct financial loss."

"While the ombudsman has put the matter in the hands of Parliament, a remedy can only happen with the support of the Government and we hope ministers will move quickly to bring forward its proposal before the summer."

Ms Madden has made her stance clear on the Committee's recommendations, stating: "Parliament's top pensions thinkers have spoken. It is now time for the Government to act and give the Commons as a whole its say."

She agrees with the Committee that "The Committee is right to suggest there must be additional compensation for those many hundreds of thousands who suffered direct financial loss in addition to a fixed sum for all those affected by successive governments' failures."

Reflecting on the struggle for recognition, she added: "After years of campaigning, both the independent ombudsman and now a cross-party group of senior MPs have vindicated our position."

Ms Madden expressed frustration at further delays, saying: "For ministers to leave setting up a compensation scheme a moment longer is just delaying the inevitable and insulting our generation of women afresh."

The WASPI Campaign believes approximately 3.8 million women have been affected by the alterations to their State Pension age.

In response, a DWP spokesperson commented: "We are considering the Ombudsman's report and will respond in due course, having cooperated fully throughout this investigation."

They continued to defend the government's approach: "The government has always been committed to supporting all pensioners in a sustainable way that gives them a dignified retirement whilst also being fair to them and taxpayers."

Highlighting recent increases, the spokesperson noted: "The State Pension is the foundation of income in retirement and will remain so as we delivered a further 8.5 per cent rise last month, increasing the state pension for 12 million pensioners. This has seen the full rate of the new State Pension rise by £900."