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WASPI women claim a major step forward in fight for compensation

CAMPAIGNERS for equality in women’s pensions are claiming a major step forward in their fight for compensation following recent developments in the High Court.

WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) – who have around 300 members in Coventry and Warwickshire – are celebrating the fact that a report on their case by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) was quashed after it was found to be “legally flawed”.

Piggy bank.
Piggy bank.

The campaign group say they’ve forced the government watchdog into a climbdown over its probe into the DWP's failure to communicate the raise in pension age from 60 to 65, and then 66, in time to let those affected make plans.

Men previously received their state pension at 65 and women at 60, but the retirement age is now 66 for everyone. It is due to rise to 68 but a decision on when this comes into force has been delayed.

WASPI say women have lost up to £50,000 from their state pension after the rise in the age at which they qualify, and campaigners have demanded compensation for those affected.

The group says the worry caused to the women who’re affected has had devastating consequences for their health and in some cases has led to suicide. It says an affected woman dies every 13 minutes without seeing justice.

The group launched a judicial review against the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) earlier this year after rejecting its assessment of the scale of the injustice women suffered.

In a statement, WASPI said: “This means that key findings in the PHSO’s investigation into the injustices suffered by the women affected will have to be reconsidered.”

The High Court decision follows WASPI’s decision to take the PHSO to court for a judicial review. “The case is founded on the second report on the previously proven maladministration by DWP [Department for Work and Pensions] in the way State Pension Age changes were made affecting millions of women born in the 1950s,” said WASPI.

Commenting on the most recent events, WASPI stated: “The judicial review claim is the latest development in more than a decade of battles by WASPI to expose the DWP maladministration in failing to provide accurate, adequate and timely information about changes to State Pension Age for women.”

Jeannie Le Mesurier, WASPI joint co-ordinator for Coventry and Warwickshire, told the Herald that the lack of adequate notification about raising the state pension age for women from 60 to 66 had resulted in severe hardship for many women born in the 1950s.

Describing her own experience, Jeannie said she lost her job when she was in her late 50s and this caused real problems.

She said: “My marriage had ended five years previously. I still had a mortgage and various debts. I was in poor health and it would have been impossible to have gained another job.

“I thought I would be okay because I’d get my pension at 60. What a shock when I realised that it wouldn’t happen. I had no income to speak of whatsoever. I was terrified and had thoughts of suicide.

“My doctor prescribed anti-depressants. I went to a charity for counselling which kindly gave me vouchers for food banks. In effect it has been six years of hell waiting for my state pension.”

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