Many women born in the 1950s should be paid compensation for a shortfall in their pensions according to a new report.

The WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) campaign has been running for nine years. In that time, it has consistently argued that women born in the 1950s were unfairly treated because of the way in which their State Pension Age (SPA) was increased. Up until 5 April 2010, the SPA for women was 60 and for men it was 65. The SPA for women has since gradually increased at the rate of six months per year to SPA 63 by April 2016 before accelerating to reach SPA 65 by December 2018. A further increase was then swiftly phased in to equalise SPA at 66 by November 2020.

WASPI’s main contention throughout has been the inadequate communication surrounding SPA changes, resulting in insufficient time to change retirement plans and financial hardship for some of the 3.8 million women affected. A judicial review concluded, after appeal, that the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) had no legal duty to give notice of SPA changes. With legal options effectively closed, WASPI switched its focus to an investigation by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO), which had published an initial report in 2021. Delayed by legal action, the PHSO’s long-awaited final report was published in March 2024 with the conclusion that compensation of between £1,000 and £2,950 should be paid by the DWP to those affected.

Given that this implies an estimated bill of up to £10.5 billion, it is not surprising that the PHSO suspects that the DWP “will not remedy the injustice”. Indeed, the DWP has responded that it is only considering the PHSO’s findings. Some commentators have suggested that the government is playing for time to allow the decision to pass to whichever party wins the general election. However, the new government will also be tasked with considering the next SPA increase to age 68, which could start as early as 2037. The rise to SPA 67 runs from April 2026 to April 2028.

If there is one lesson to be drawn from this long-running saga, it is to make sure you know your SPA, because the DWP is not obliged to tell you.

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