WASPI women could get compensation package this summer as date put forward

MP Sir Stephen Timms speaking in Parliament
-Credit:Jessica Taylor, PA

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has been called upon to present a compensation package for WASPI women before the summer recess.

Women affected by increases in their State Pension age from 1995 onwards are demanding urgent financial redress for their financial plight. The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman found the DWP guilty of failing to give enough notice of the changes.

Firstly, the State Pension age for women was increased to 65 to match that for men and then it went up again to 66 for both sexes. Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) has led a campaign for justice. After considering the complaints, the ombudsman asked Parliament to identify a mechanism for providing appropriate remedy for those who have suffered injustice.

Its report 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 recommended compensation at level four on its scale, which would be £1,000-£2,950, though there are calls for this to be increased. The Work and Pensions Committee is asking the DWP to speed up the process of examining the ombudsman's report and coming up with compensation criteria.

Chairman Sir Stephen Timms said that after WASPI representatives attended an evidence session, the committee was "reminded of the need for urgent taction, given that the ombudsman started to look at this issue in 2018 and that every 13 minutes a women born in the 1950s dies."

In a letter to Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride, Sir Stephen 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. We look forward to discussing this issue, among others, with you and the Permanent Secretary when you are both appearing before the Committee on May 22."

The current session of Parliament is anticipated to adjourn for the summer on July 23, providing the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) a two-month window to develop proposals for financial redress to resolve the longstanding dispute.

Sir Stephen also remarked: "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 (SPA) 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 (compared to a more bespoke system).

"Beyond this, there should be some flexibility for individuals to make the case, after they have received the payment using the rules-based system we have outlined, that they experienced direct financial loss and that they are therefore due a higher level of compensation. Such a system would need specific criteria for people to be able to apply.

"The PHSO did not see direct financial loss in the six sample complaints it looked at, but accepted that it was possible. For example, Angela Madden, chair of the WASPI campaign, cited the example of a woman whose divorce settlement was less than it would have been because it was based on the expectation that she would receive her State Pension at age 60."