One woman affected by the state pension age changes is dying every 14 minutes as the Government comes under mounting pressure to urgently provide compensation over the communications fiasco.
i can reveal that 33,783 affected women died last year, with a further 36,285 expected to die in 2022. Campaigners are concerned more and more women will continue to die without any form of “justice” in the pipeline.
The Waspi (Women Against State Pension Inequality) campaign, which is urging ministers to immediately offer financial support rather than await the next stage of the watchdog’s maladministration investigation into how the changes were communicated, said more than 220,000 women born in the 1950s will have died between 2015 and 2022.
By 2027, one Waspi woman could be dying every 10 minutes, according to Statista’s analysis of Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures on female deaths by age.
Women born in the 1950s claim they were not properly informed that their state pension age would move from 60 to 65 in line with men, before increasing again to 66. The lack of communication led them to experience emotional and financial distress because they did not have time to prepare for living without their pension.
Last year the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) found the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) failed to communicate “with enough urgency” that the state pension age for some women would increase.
Now the PHSO is considering whether the DWP’s failings “led to an injustice for the complainants”, after which it could make recommendations for some level of compensation to the affected women.
But Angela Madden, chair of the Waspi campaign, warned the Government against waiting too long to act.
She told i: “Whatever the outcome of today’s vote on the Prime Minister’s future, MPs must now insist the Government gives long overdue security and recompense to women who have been badly affected by mistakes at the Department for Work and Pensions.
“With the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman having concluded that this is a clear case of maladministration almost a year ago, further delays make ministers complicit in more women dying without justice. It is just callous to hope the grim reaper will save the Treasury more cash with each passing day.
Ms Madden, who was named a “platinum champion” by the Royal Voluntary Service over the Jubilee weekend, said: “The Ombudsman has been quite clear that DWP ministers need not wait for further reports before being pro-active in putting a compensation package in place. We simply ask that they stop stonewalling and meet us, so that together we can bring this to a resolution.”
Waspi, that agrees with equalising the state pension age for men and women but not in the manner in which it was carried out, wants “fair and fast” compensation to reflect the financial losses women have faced, as well as the damage to their mental health and well-being.
The next phase of the PHSO’s investigation is expected to be released in summer or early autumn.
If the Ombudsman proceeds to make “recommendations to put things right”, it has stated it will not recommend that affected women receive reimbursement for their “lost pensions”.
However it could recommend a financial remedy in the region of £10,000 or more if it deems the level of injustice women have suffered is serious enough.
The DWP said: “We support millions of people every year and our priority is ensuring they get the help and support to which they are entitled. The Government decided over 25 years ago that it was going to make the state pension age the same for men and women as a long-overdue move towards gender equality.
“Both the High Court and Court of Appeal have supported the actions of the DWP, under successive governments dating back to 1995, and the Supreme Court refused the claimants permission to appeal.”