WASPI campaigners still waiting to hear about compensation

Karen Sheldon and Judi Moss, of the Suffolk WASPI group

Karen Sheldon, left, with fellow Waspi campaigner Judi Moss. - Credit: Karen Sheldon

Thousands of Suffolk women are still waiting to hear if the government will compensate them for changes to their pension arrangements amid warnings that many claimants could die before any settlement is paid.

Nationally there are fears that nearly a quarter of women born between 1951 and 1960 who had their pension rules changed without being told could have died before becoming eligible for compensation.

The issue affects women who lost out when the pension age for women was changed from 60 to bring it in line with men's pensions.

The change was made in 1995 but the women were not told until 2008 - leaving not enough time to alter their pension arrangements.

They formed the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaign - and in July last year the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman said they had been victims of maladministration by the Department of Work and Pensions.

Now the national campaign has worked out that 220,000 of eligible women will have died by the end of this year - partly because of the Covid pandemic.

Karen Sheldon, the coordinator of the Suffolk Branch of WASPI, said there were about 6,500 women in Suffolk affected by the situation - and would have been disappointed that the chancellor had not mentioned them in his Spring Statement.

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She said they were still waiting to hear what compensation the Ombudsman would recommend: "We hope to hear within the next month - it would be extraordinary if the government does not accept the findings."

The WASPI campaign is calling for an immediate one-off compensation payment of between £11,666 and £20,000, with the most going to women who were given the shortest notice of the longest increase in their state pension age.  Some were given only one year’s notice of a six-year delay to their retirement.

Suffolk WASPI campaigners protesting the government's decision

Suffolk WASPI campaigners have been trying to get compensation for years. - Credit: Karen Sheldon

The all-party parliamentary group on pension inequality is co-chaired by Waveney MP Peter Aldous. He said: "It is now clear that the so-called WASPI women were victims of successive governments' systemic shortcomings dating from 2005, maladministration, and a failure to comply with the civil service code in their communications concerning the planned changes.

"The APPG that I co-chair has submitted evidence to the Ombudsman calling for the highest compensation level available in making its recommendations, which we feel should be paid to affected women in recognition of their suffering."