18 April 2024

Yousaf urges ‘current and future’ PMs to compensate Waspi campaigners

18 April 2024

Scotland’s First Minister has urged Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer to be “on the right side of history” in delivering compensation for women impacted by changes to the state pension age.

Humza Yousaf has written to who he said are the “current and future” incumbents of Downing Street after he met with the Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) movement outside the Scottish Parliament.

It follows the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) report which ruled some women born in the 1950s were not adequately informed of the impact of the changes.

For more than 60 years, men received their state pension at 65, while the threshold was 60 for women, despite concerns the move was unfair due to the longer life expectancy of women.

After years of inaction, Waspi women must get the justice, apology and compensation they deserve

Moves to equalise the issue began with the 1995 Pension Act with the age for women increasing to 65 between 2010 and 2020.

But it was accelerated in 2010 to reduce the overall costs of pensions, with the new state pension age brought forward to 2018.

However the ombudsman report ruled accurate and timely information had not been given to millions of women in the UK, including 335,000 in Scotland.

Following a demonstration outside Holyrood on Thursday, the First Minister said: “Westminster’s continued refusal to provide compensation to women affected by this national scandal for years has been a shocking dereliction of duty.

“It is abundantly clear that after years of inaction, Waspi women must get the justice, apology and compensation they deserve.

“I urge both the current and future occupants of 10 Downing Street to be on the right side of history, and am willing to work with both Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer to ensure that the historic injustices faced by the Waspi women is now urgently put right.”

In his letter to Prime Minister Mr Sunak, Mr Yousaf said the UK Government must become “part of the solution, rather than the problem” for campaigners.

He also urged Labour leader Sir Keir to stand by the party’s previous manifesto pledge to recognise the “injustice” and design a compensation system.

The PHSO suggested a compensation level of between £1,000 and £2,950 for impacted women, but Anne Potter, co-ordinator of Waspi Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Dunbartonshire and Renfrewshire, said the sum did not reflect the “injustice” the women had experienced.

She said: “Whilst I am thankful that the long-awaited Ombudsman report has been published, and that it has shown, without doubt, that we experienced maladministration at the hands of the UK Government, I am extremely disappointed in the suggested level of compensation.

“Politicians from every party must show support for the campaign and ensure the UK Government deals with this efficiently and effectively.”

A DWP spokesman said: “We are considering the Ombudsman’s report and will respond in due course, having co-operated 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 this month, increasing the state pension for 12 million pensioners. This has seen the full rate of the new State Pension rise by £900.”

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