WASPI: ‘We have been treated unjustly’ says director
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The DWP has underpaid State Pensioners by £8,900 each on average, it emerged today, with widows and women over 80 hardest hit. Some have lost more than £100,000. Total losses may be even higher in a case that has shocking echoes with the so-called Waspi women, which stands for Women Against State Pension Injustice.
An estimated 3.8 million women born in the 1950s lost up to £50,000 each when the State Pension age for women was increased from 60 to 66, to bring it into line with men.
These Waspi women say they were not given sufficient warning of the change and in July the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman agreed. It said the DWP should have given them more notice of the move.
The Ombudsman said Waspi women suffered “maladministration” because the DWP should have informed them of changes in December 2006.
Instead, the DWP delayed until April 2009, some 28 months later than it should have done.
Hilary Simpson, chair of the Women Against State Pension Injustice (Waspi) 2018 group, said the latest scandal is “yet another example of major incompetence by the DWP”.
“Here we have another generation of women missing out on their pensions because the DWP hadn’t notified them.
“We have every sympathy with these women who have been forced to struggle on incomes much less than they were entitled to.”
While this DWP error is entirely separate to the Waspi case, the echoes are clear and worrying, Simpson said.
The latest DWP errors will hit pensioners who first claimed their State Pension before April 2016.
They have lost more than £1billion in total and possibly more, according to a highly critical report by the National Audit Office.
Meg Hillier, chair of the committee of public accounts, said this is not the first “widespread” DWP error in recent years and correcting them comes at great cost to the taxpayer. “The DWP must provide urgent redress to those affected and take real action to prevent similar errors in future.”
Waspi women are also hoping to receive compensation from the DWP. They have had to fight long and hard for it, but remain confident of success.
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The Ombudsman has no power to refund lost pensions or pay damages, but it can recommend the Government gives Waspi women compensation.
Simpson said after that, the final decision rests with MPs. “We are now pressing for a fair, fast, cross-party solution to the injustice.”
She said their financial and health problems have been ignored for too long, while many have died while waiting for compensation.
“We want Parliament to admit that things went badly wrong, and compensate us for the incompetence with which the equalisation of the State Pension age was implemented.”
A DWP spokesperson said both the High Court and Court of Appeal had supported its actions and making the State Pension age the same for men and women was a long-overdue move towards gender equality.
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