Published On: Fri, Mar 3rd, 2023

WASPI women hit out as they take next step in state pension age debate | Personal Finance | Finance

WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) represent millions of women born in the 1950s, who argue they were negatively impacted by state pension age changes. The campaigners argue women affected were not provided with ample notice their state pension would increase and have suffered financially and emotionally as a result.

This week, two affected women spoke to the BBC Essex morning show to highlight their personal experiences.

Debbie Dalton, a co-cordinator at WASPI Essex, discussed how she had been impacted with presenter Sonia Watson.

Ms Dalton said: “It has affected me in various ways. I didn’t find out until 2013 – I had about three years’ notice, so I was one of the lucky ones.

“But that’s not anywhere near enough time to settle any financial disasters.

READ MORE: WASPI calls on men to support state pension age campaign

“It was only the untimely death of my mum that allowed me to get my inheritance. And we survived.

“It was totally unexpected and quite shocking. Had I known, I could’ve looked at a private pension, a workplace pension. Things could have been very different, we would’ve made different decisions.”

Ms Dalton suggested her existing health conditions had been exacerbated by the lack of notice and change in her plans for retirement.

Another woman named Rosemary called BBC Essex to share her WASPI story.

She said: “I’m short of £50,000 – that’s how much it works out as, how much the Government has taken from me.

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“I’m really annoyed, because I thought once the Ombudsman said it was maladministration, there would be some sort of recompense.

“If it was a company and not the Government, they would be expected to act on the report.”

In 2021, the PHSO concluded there was maladministration on the part of the DWP, stating: “We consider that, if DWP had made a reasonable decision in August 2005 and then acted promptly, it would have written to affected women to tell them about changes to their state pension age by, at the latest, December 2006.”

However, WASPI is now arguing the Ombudsman is “mistaken” about the impact the maladministration of the DWP.

The campaign group stated the Ombudsman “appears to believe” most women would have not received the letters until much later – and argue this would have been “too late” for most to make different decisions about their retirement.

A Crowdjustice appeal to mount a High Court legal challenge has, as of writing, reached some £83,100.

The campaign group does not disagree with the increase in the state pension age but disputes a perceived lack of notice.

A PHSO spokesperson this week told they are considering what action the DWP should have taken, to put right the injustice found.

The spokesperson said: “We have shared provisional views with complainants, their MPs and DWP. Once we have considered further evidence we will publish a full report on our findings.”

A DWP spokesperson added: “The Government decided over 25 years ago that it was going to make the state pension age the same for men and women as a long-overdue move towards gender equality.

“Both the High Court and Court of Appeal have supported the actions of the DWP, under successive governments dating back to 1995, and the Supreme Court refused the claimants permission to appeal.”

The BBC Essex morning show airs weekdays from 6 to 10am, and is available to listen to on BBC Sounds.

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