Waspi women angered by minister’s ‘arrogance’
Women campaigning for pensions compensation have accused a UK Government Minister of “astonishing arrogance” after he refused to meet them.
Westminster MP Rupa Huq has asked the Department for Work and Pensions to meet a representative of the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaign.
In a parliamentary answer, Pensions Minister Guy Opperman said that a Minister met representatives of WASPI six years ago on 29 June 2016 and that there are no plans for further meetings.
The WASPI campaign has been trying to meet Mr Opperman since the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) confirmed last year that 1950s-born women were victims of maladministration by the DWP.
The group is campaigning for ‘fast, fair compensation’ for those women affected by the DWP’s failure to tell women about changes to State Pension Age in good time.
The changes to women’s pensions, which were legislated for in 1995, were not communicated through targeted letters to most of those affected until 2012, leading the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) to find that “The opportunity that additional notice would have given them to adjust their retirement plans was lost.”
Recent research commissioned by WASPI found that by the end of this year 220,000 women born in the 1950s will have died awaiting compensation. Over the course of the two-year COVID pandemic, one in every ten women who died was born in the 1950s, and had lost both their state pension income and the opportunity to make alternative retirement plans.
Despite the Ombudsman’s findings and the rapid death rate of those affected, the DWP is refusing requests from MPs to meet with campaigners to discuss a one-off compensation payment.
WASPI chair and finance director Angela Madden said: “We are grateful for MPs such as Rupa Huq’s continued support for the WASPI campaign.
“Our members understandably conclude that the Government is just choosing to turn a blind eye and prevaricate on the issue, when they could help now.
“The Ombudsman has been clear that the Department could be pro-active on compensation. All we are asking is that Ministers meet with us to discuss a fair, fast compensation package now before more women die waiting for justice. Their refusal to do so is astonishingly arrogant.”
Ms Huq added: “This is a shocking response from the DWP who have already been found guilty by the Ombudsman of maladministration.
“The Department knows there is a wrong that must be righted here, but seems to be hoping campaigners will simply go away. We won’t. We intend to keep campaigning for the justice WASPI women deserve.”