MPs call for Waspi women to get state pension compensation before Parliament's summer break

Pressure is growing on the government to compensate Waspi women who lost out due to state pension age changes.

A Waspi campaigner holds a placard
Waspi women are urging MPs to debate their plight in the House of Commons
(Image credit: Getty Images)

MPs have stepped up pressure on the government to compensate women who have lost out on state pension payments.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman called on the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in March to stump up £10.5bn in compensation for older women born in the 1950s who claim that changes to the state pension age from 60 to 68 between 2010 and 2018 were poorly communicated.

It follows a long-running campaign from the Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) group.

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More than two months later, the government has still refused a payout.

The Work and Pensions Committee this week called on ministers to bring proposals forward before the summer recess in July to provide compensation.

“The debate over the impact of the DWP’s failure to communicate increases in the women’s state pension age has dragged on for too long and it is time the government took action to resolve the issue," says Sir Stephen Timms, chair of the Work and Pensions Committee.

"There is no perfect solution, but there would seem to be broad support for a rules-based system of compensation with a degree of flexibility for cases where women have experienced direct financial loss. 

"While the Ombudsman has put the matter in the hands of Parliament, a remedy can only happen with the support of the government and we hope ministers will move quickly to bring forward its proposal before the summer.”

An open letter calling for MPs to be given time to debate compensation for Waspi women has generated almost 240,000 signatures.

Published on petitions website Change.Org by the official Waspi campaign, the letter calls on Leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt to set aside Parliamentary time for a vote. Mordaunt’s role involves controlling the schedule of daily business in the legislative chamber.

The government has so far refused to commit to a payout, with Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride telling MPs on 25 March that he would “consider the findings” of the Ombudsman’s report.

Waspi has been campaigning for nine years as a result of the women’s state pension age increasing from 60 to 68 between 2010 and 2018. The group argues the move was implemented at short notice, which left many women born in the 1950s in severe financial distress.

MPs back 'rules-based' redress

The letter from the Work and Pensions Committee suggests compensation payments could be adjusted to reflect the extent of change in an individual’s state pension age and the notice they received. 

This would mean that the less notice someone had, the bigger the change in the state pension age and the higher the redress owed, the letter suggested.

The method may not be as good as a more bespoke system, MPs said, but "it would be quick to administer, applying known data to a formula to determine the amount due and relatively inexpensive."

Waspi petition calls for ‘urgent’ MPs debate

Waspi’s open letter, which was first published on 23 March, has urged Penny Mordaunt to give Parliamentary time over to a debate and vote on compensation for women who’ve been affected by state pension changes.

The letter accuses the DWP of ‘refusing to comply’ with the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s findings. It says the department’s “incompetence and neglect” has harmed 3.5 million women, and claims one of these women dies every 13 minutes.

It also argues that the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for pensions inequality is “backed by hundreds of MPs across party lines” and “has long backed substantial compensation”. As such, it says the House of Commons “must urgently” debate and vote on the proposals of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

On Wednesday 17 April this APPG wrote to both Mordaunt and Hands. Referencing Waspi's open letter, it called for an "urgent debate" so that MPs could ensure "justice is delivered" for victims of the pension scandal. It also urged the government to set out how it will compensate Waspi women.

One route to a debate that appears to be more likely to get the issue in front of the House of Commons is via the Backbench Business Committee. On Wednesday 17 April, SNP MP Patricia Gibson put a cross-party application to the committee, which has been approved. No date has yet been set for when the debate will take place.

A DWP spokesperson said: “We are considering the Ombudsman’s report and will respond in due course, having cooperated fully throughout this investigation. The government has always been committed to supporting all pensioners in a sustainable way that gives them a dignified retirement whilst also being fair to them and taxpayers.

“The state pension is the foundation of income in retirement and will remain so as we delivered a further 8.5% rise in April, increasing the state pension for 12 million pensioners. This has seen the full rate of the new State Pension rise by £900."

Waspi urges supporters to contact local MPs

Under Parliament’s rules, the Waspi petition won’t directly lead to a House of Commons debate - although there is a chance it could influence Penny Mordaunt and the government to act.

Only petitions filed using the Commons’ official petitions portal can be considered for debate, so long as they hit more than 100,000 signatures. However, even these petitions often tend not to make it to a debate in the chamber, or are presented to the Commons when only a few MPs are present.

As well as its petition, Waspi is also urging its supporters to contact their local MPs ahead of the next general election. The letters it has prepared claim 60% of Waspi women are “undecided on who to vote for” at the ballot box, and would welcome a manifesto commitment to implement compensation during the next parliament.

So far, out of the major parties, only the SNP and Liberal Democrats have called for Waspi compensation. Labour has not yet set out its position on the matter.

Henry Sandercock
Staff Writer

Henry Sandercock has spent more than eight years as a journalist covering a wide variety of beats. Having studied for an MA in journalism at the University of Kent, he started his career in the garden of England as a reporter for local TV channel KMTV. 

Henry then worked at the BBC for three years as a radio producer - mostly on BBC Radio 2 with Jeremy Vine, but also on major BBC Radio 4 programmes like The World at One, PM and Broadcasting House. Switching to print media, he covered fresh foods for respected magazine The Grocer for two years. 

After moving to - a national news site run by the publisher of The Scotsman and Yorkshire Post - Henry began reporting on the cost of living crisis, becoming the title’s money editor in early 2023. He covered everything from the energy crisis to scams, and inflation. You will now find him writing for MoneyWeek. Away from work, Henry lives in Edinburgh with his partner and their whippet Whisper.