Compensation ‘too little too late’ for Lancaster and Morecambe WASPI women

WASPI campaigners have welcomed the Labour Party’s acknowledgement of the injustice to women born in the 1950s, but say compensation is too little and too late for many.

Tuesday, 3rd December 2019, 10:10 am
Updated Tuesday, 3rd December 2019, 10:25 am
Photo Neil Cross Karen Carter and Christina Barrett fighting pension injustice

The Labour Party announced last week that it will offer pay-outs of up to £31,000 to compensate the 3.8m women hit by the rise in state pension age from 60 to 65.

It said that if elected it would do this within its first full five-year term.

Boris Johnson, who initially pledged to consider the impact of the policy, has since said there is no money available.

WASPI Supporters outside Westminster

Jeremy Corbyn told the BBC that the £58bn pledge was a “moral debt” owed by the country.

Women born in the 1950s say they have been forced to sell their homes, use foodbanks and work for longer despite health issues associated with growing older.

Changes under the Pensions Act 2011 saw an increase to women’s state pension age from 60 to 65 in November 2018.

This is due to increase again to 66 in October 2020.

Photo Neil Cross Karen Carter and Christina Barrett fighting pension injustice

But Lancaster and South Lakeland WASPI (Women Against State Pension Increase), said that state pension is a “right not a benefit”, and while welcoming Labour’s acknowledgement, demanded full recompense in a tax free lump sum.

A spokeswoman for the group said: “An average of £15,000 paid out in increments over five years does not enable women who have been forced to sell their houses to buy them back, it does nothing to recompense women who have been forced to work an extra six years and it does not give back self esteem to those who have had to use food banks or go through the ignominy of the benefits system.

“For those still awaiting their pensions, it is not enough to live on.

For those who have reached pensionable age, it will be taxed.

It is not what we asked for and the way it is proposed to be paid, will be of no significant benefit to us - we want full recompense in a tax free lump sum.

“Many are asking the Labour party ‘where will this money come from?’ – we would like to ask the government ‘where did our money go?’”

WASPI campaigner Christina Barrett, 65, from Hest Bank, said she had become very cynical whilst dealing with MPs and the DWP, and had noticed “a lot of half truths and massaging of facts and figures”.

She said: “I wonder if Labour gets into power how soon they’ll instigate the compensation or indeed if other parties might try to block it, so it may not be as simple as they think.”

Christina said she would receive the full £30,000 compensation, but said she would feel bad getting more than other women she had campaigned with.

She added: “Having said that, most of us have lost around £48,000 so even with the maximum compensation offered, I would still have lost £18,000 and other women would lose more.”

Lizzi Collinge, Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Morecambe and Lunesdale, said: “Women have told me about retirement plans left in tatters and the horror of learning at the last minute that their pension age had been increased.

“Many who had been relying on receiving a state pension at 60 have been financially devastated.”