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UK Government dragging its feet on women’s pension ‘scandal’

07 Mar 2024 3 minute read
Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) protest. Image: Tom Roper

Chris Haines ICNN Senedd reporter

The UK Government has been accused of continuing to drag its feet on ensuring women born in the 1950s receive pension equality.

Thirty campaigners from the 1950s Women of Wales and Pension Partners for Justice group were in the public gallery as the issue was raised in the Senedd on March 6.

The campaign was launched amid concerns about the way in which women’s state pension age was increased from 60 to 66 in line with men.

Millions of women saw their retirement plans plunged into chaos after they were given little to no notice of the change, causing financial hardship for many.

Delyth Jewell, Plaid Cymru’s deputy leader, raised their plight during questions to Mick Antoniw, who is counsel general, the Welsh Government’s chief legal adviser.


She told the chamber: “The 1950s-born women denied their state pensions still await justice. I suggested to you last year that Waspi also stands for ‘Waiting and Still Pleading for Integrity’. They should not still be waiting.

“It’s a scandal that the UK Government has dragged its feet for so long that women have died before getting the money they’re owed, and they are due financial redress.

“I hope, I trust that the ombudsman will recommend awarding payments of the highest level possible but Westminster has the final say, so I’d urge you please to maintain pressure at this critical time.”

Ms Jewell added: “Any proposal to pay these women off with a sum that’s less than what they’re owed would go against the Equality Act 2010 and would flout international law, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.”


Mr Antoniw said he has written to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, which has been investigating the way state pension age changes were introduced.

Calling for the matter to be expedited, he said: “We’ve had a response, and, of course, the issue is still being considered by the ombudsman. We’ll continue to monitor what is happening and continue to make, where appropriate, representations.

“In respect of the issue of the compensation that I think we all feel is due and would be just, there should be two things.

“Firstly, all the women who’ve been affected should be compensated for the specific economic loss that they have suffered.

“They should also be compensated for the impact this has had on their lives.”


He added: “I doubt whether there is anyone in this chamber who doesn’t know someone who has been affected and who isn’t concerned about it, so extensive has been the impact.”

In 2021, the ombudsman published a report finding maladministration in the way the Department for Work and Pensions communicated the changes.

The Waspi campaign group says more than 260,000 women impacted by the state pension changes have died since the fight for justice began in 2015.

Mr Antoniw stressed the importance of posthumous payments, saying: “So many people have passed away before seeing any form of justice or rectification for what has happened.

“It is important that that is recognised and the estates of those people and their families also see that justice is delivered for those who are no longer here to receive that.”

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