Photo: Paul Mattsson
Photo: Paul Mattsson

Clare Wilkins, Secretary of East Midlands National Pensioners’ Convention (personal capacity).

Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) and other campaigners finally have a victory. Now we need compensation!

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) produced his second report on 22 March. He agreed that women born in the 1950s were not informed adequately and timeously about the increase in their state pension age from 60 to 65 (now 66) by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). He recommended compensation of £1,000 to £2,950 to women who have lost tens of thousands of pounds in pensions and – in many cases – their lives, their health and the retirement they had planned for.

The DWP has said all along that it would not pay. The ombudsman has asked Parliament to decide on compensation payments.

I received my first state pension payment last week. I am 66. I worked and paid National Insurance all my life towards my state pension and my contract with the government was that I would get it at 60.

In response to the PHSO report, the DWP said that the government supported all pensioners in ‘a dignified retirement whilst also being fair to taxpayers’.

But our state pension is the lowest in Europe and with tax thresholds frozen till 2028, even pensioners who only receive the new State Pension will be paying tax before then. Those with even small work pensions already do. This makes a mockery of any pledges to honour the pension triple lock in the future, as it will be taken away in tax! Many older pensioners on the basic State Pension are much worse off than even pensioners on the new State Pension, introduced in 2016.

With a general election looming, politicians are under pressure from campaigners and pensioners to pay compensation. Both the Tories and Labour are saying that ‘they will look closely at the report’. Only continued pressure will get compensation. Even if compensation is paid, many women have died and will die before getting it.

Trade unions must take up the issue of pensions as an integral part of campaigning. We have to fight together for a state pension that can be lived on with dignity.