More WASPI women could die waiting for justice after Prime Minister says he will 'take time'

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. Picture date: Wednesday May 15, 2024. See PA story POLITICS PMQs Sunak. Photo credit should read: House of Commons/UK Parliament/PA Wire
The Prime Minister's refused to give any date for when the government would provide a plan for WASPI compensation -Credit:House of Commons/UK Parliament/PA

Women affected by a historic pension injustice might have to wait even longer for compensation, following Rishi Sunak's admission during Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) that the Government would "take the time to thoroughly review the findings," raising further doubts that millions of women will get an answer this side of a General Election.

Up to 3.8 million women born in the 1950s were affected by a change in the State Pension that equalised the age at which people retire for both men and women, but many women were not aware of the change and so were unable to prepare properly for their retirement. A health ombudsman that investigated the issue has said that these women have suffered a "significant injustice" and deserve some form of compensation.

Standing up in PMQs, Salford and Eccles MP Rebecca Long-Bailey said to Sunak: "In March, the parliamentary and health service ombudsman report into 1950s women's state pension injustice made clear to the government that the Department for Work and Pensions was guilty of maladministration. That these women suffered significant injustice, that they were owed compensation, and that Parliament must urgently identify a mechanism for redress."

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Long-Bailey finished by asking: "Nearly 279000 women have already died waiting for justice. So, when will the prime minister finally place before this house a mechanism for appropriate redress?"

But with the Prime Minster on an unofficial election footing for later this year, he refused to be drawn on any spending commitments, or even a date for when millions of women born in the 1950s will see a historic wrong righted by the government. This is despite the ombudsman's report finding that "the Department must do the right thing and it must be held to account for failure to do so."

The Prime Minister responded with thin gruel for women waiting for justice, saying: "I understand the strong feelings across this chamber about these matters and the desire for urgency in addressing them and, following the ombudsman's multi-year investigation, it is imperative that we take the time to thoroughly review the findings, and I'm not entirely sure I agree with her characterisation of all of them so far.

"But broadly we are committed to making sure that pensioners have the dignity and security they deserve including through the triple lock, which is increasing pensions by £900 this year. But I welcome tomorrow's debate on the ombudsman's report and we will, of course, take all views into account as we identify and implement next steps."

The ombudsman recommended that the most affected women be awarded between £1000 and £2950. However, the WASPI campaigners are urging MPs to increase this to around £10,000 to reflect the historic inequality.