New State Pension age compensation plan aims to simplify payout process for all WASPI women

Two senior figures from the WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) campaign set out details of a ‘two-pronged’ compensation plan for 1950s-born women impacted by changes to their State Pension age. WASPI Chair Angela Madden and Campaign Director Jane Cowley put forward a simple proposal using mechanisms already in place at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) during an oral evidence session in front of the cross-party Work and Pensions Committee on Tuesday.

The campaigners said compensation should be “two-pronged” with a first element which is “speedy, simple and sensitive”, giving a tiered amount to all affected women based on how long they had to wait for their State Pension and how little notice they were given of that change.

As an example, WASPI explained that those who received three months’ notice of a one year increase would receive less compensation, while those who received only 18 months’ notice of a six year increase would get more.

A second prong would provide a separate payment for women who could demonstrate “direct financial loss” as a result of the age changes. The campaigners said this might include loss of earnings and goes beyond the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s (PHSO) remedy recommendations in its final report published on March 21.

However, WASPI said this additional element is “essential if injustice is to be properly recognised”.

After a six-year investigation, the PHSO said that the DWP failed to adequately communicate changes to women’s State Pension age, and those affected are owed compensation.

As a result of its findings, the Ombudsman has asked Parliament to intervene and “act swiftly” to make sure a compensation scheme is established.

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 the SNP’s Alan Brown, are keen to see the highest level of compensation awarded (Level six) - which starts at £10,000.

Speaking in support of the WASPI campaign, Conservative MP and Chair of the APPG (All-Party Parliamentary Group) on Women’s State Pension Inequality, Peter Aldous told the Committee: “There should be a bell-curve where those who received least notice of longest delay get most and those who got the longest notice of a shorter increase should receive a lesser amount. That would be the approach I would suggest.”

Labour MP and Co-Chair of the APPG, Rebecca Long-Bailey said: “There clearly has been direct financial loss to affected women. The PHSO has made its decision on direct loss based on its own guidance; that’s not statutory and therefore can be amended by Parliament. What WASPI is proposing would be a fair system, ensuring everyone affected gets something and those worst affected get the most.”

Commenting following the session, WASPI chair Angela Madden said: “We welcome the serious and thorough questions asked today by members of the Work and Pensions Select Committee and the cross-party support for our approach. It is now for the government to give proper time to Parliament to debate and vote on a fair compensation scheme. The DWP cannot just keep ignoring us.”

SNP MP Patricia Gibson recently confirmed that a debate and vote is scheduled to take place in Parliament on Thursday, May 16.

The North Ayrshire and Arran MP presented an Early Day Motion to the Backbench Business Committee last month, hoping that the debate will at least reach an agreement, through a vote, that redress should be made to those women impacted by the changes.

Ms Gibson also confirmed that the debate will take place in the afternoon and urged her followers on social media to ask their MP to attend.

She said that following the publication of the PSO's final report in March, there has been “no commitment by either the current conservative government or the expected incoming Labour government to commit to even the principle of compensation ”.

Ms Gibson explained that it’s not about redress figures at this stage but about “accepting the findings of the report and how we move on from there”.

She added: “I think that the House (of Commons) needs to do what has been recommended in the report which is, and I quote “to act swiftly and make sure a compensation scheme is established as we think this will provide women with the quickest remedy”.

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