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We now have the publication of the long-awaited, much anticipated report from the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) into the raising of women’s state pension age.

This was to be phased in, as set out in the 1995 Pensions Act, but in 2011 the timetable was accelerated, and the pension age raised to 66 in October 2020.

In response, women born in the 1950s formed WASPI - Women Against State Pension Inequality Campaign after their pension age was raised with little or no notice. Whilst raising no objection to women’s state pension age being equalised with men, WASPIs were angered that changes were implemented in a deeply flawed and poorly communicated way, resulting in them being were robbed of thousands of pounds in delayed pension payments which should have been rightfully theirs.

Women had retirement plans thrown into chaos, causing deep financial hardship, exacerbated by a cost-of-living crisis. And this, after a lifetime of work by many women who also suffered pay discrimination.

Since I was first elected, I’ve participated in every single Westminster WASPI debate, the only MP to do so. I have stood shoulder to shoulder – see photo - as they battle to secure pension justice because that was, and is, the right thing to do.

After many years, the PHSO has finally vindicated WASPI campaigners, ruling that:

“Thousands of women may have been affected by Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) failure to adequately inform them that the state pension age had changed,” adding that DWP handling of the changes “meant some women lost opportunities to make informed decisions about their finances. It diminished their sense of personal autonomy and financial control.”

The conclusion is that Westminster must swiftly compensate WASPI women, despite the DWP having “indicated it will not compensate women affected by its failure”.

This is outrageous. At the time of writing, the UK Government has failed to respond to the Ombudsman’s report, with pessimism that even the paltry compensation recommended will be ignored. Fury is growing as Labour, once so vocal in support of WASPI women’s quest for justice, now refuses to commit any incoming Labour Government to delivering the recommended compensation.

Is it any wonder WASPI women feel so betrayed?

Since their pension justice campaign began, 270,000 of the 3.8 million women impacted have died before receiving their state pension. In a cruel twist, it seems these women have won the war but not the victor’s spoils. Any refusal by Westminster to take action to correct the clear injustice suffered by impacted women will see a huge backlash. WASPI women, me and SNP colleagues, will continue campaigning until the UK Government does the right thing. WASPI women will not simply “go away.”

I led the SNP charge on behalf of WASPI women last week at Westminster.

WASPI women have already waited too long for justice. They need and deserve compensation, with no barriers erected to prevent prompt access to it, that recognises their financial loss and distress. It’s time, at last, for WASPI women to finally enjoy the retirement they have earned.


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