Government ‘dragging its feet’ in response to report on women’s state pension

The Government has been accused of dragging its feet over concerns surrounding women affected by changes to the state pension age.

A Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) report ruled in March that some women born in the 1950s were not adequately informed about the impact of the changes.

Labour MP Richard Burgon called on the Government to bring forward a vote on a compensation package for affected women before the summer, while Tory MP Marco Longhi urged ministers to work “at pace”.

During work and pensions questions, Mr Burgon (Leeds East) told the Commons: “A new poll today shows two-thirds of people think the Government should urgently pay fair compensation to all those Waspi (Women Against State Pension Inequality) women.”

He added: “It’s been over six weeks since the Secretary of State got the parliamentary ombudsman’s final report, but nearly three years since the ombudsman said the DWP had committed maladministration through their failure to properly inform affected women of the state pension age changes.

“So with a Waspi woman dying every 13 minutes, time is not on their side. When will the Government stop dragging its feet? And to help ensure justice, will the Government allow MPs to vote on a compensation package before the summer?”

Richard Burgon
Labour MP Richard Burgon (Jane Barlow/PA)

Labour MP Cat Smith (Lancaster and Fleetwood) said tens of thousands of Waspi women had died during the time the ombudsman’s report has been ongoing, adding: “How many more 1950s-born women in Lancashire will die before the Government will finally act on the report’s recommendations?”

Mr Stride replied: “We are looking extremely carefully at what is a very complex report. It took the ombudsman five years or thereabouts to compile, and there will be no undue delay in us responding to that.”

The SNP accused ministers of using a looming general election campaign to ignore the issue.

Mel Stride
Works and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride (Aaron Chown/PA)

“Isn’t the issue here that the Government hopes that during the course of an election campaign this issue will get lost and that the two big parties can concoct a situation whereby they ignore this, more women will die, and more 1950s women will be denied the justice that they deserve?”

Mr Stride told MPs: “I simply don’t accept that that is a fair assessment of the very considerable time and effort that we are putting into taking this matter extremely seriously.”

But he faced Conservative pressure on the matter, with Dudley North MP Mr Longhi saying: “Could I encourage the Secretary of State to look into this matter, not just as carefully as he, I know, will do and is saying he will, but at great pace now, please?”

Women Against State Pension Inequality protest
Protesters at a demonstration in Edinburgh in April (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Speaking from the front bench, Ms Brock added that there has been a 36% rise in pensioners using food banks in the last six months.

Mr Maynard said he is “confident” the Government will reduce pensioner poverty, adding: “One per cent of low-income pensioners lived in a household that has accessed a food bank within 12 months.”

Elsewhere in the session, former home secretary Suella Braverman reiterated calls to abolish the two-child benefit cap policy.

Suella Braverman
Former home secretary Suella Braverman (Victoria Jones/PA)

“Isn’t it right that the single biggest, most effective thing the Government could do now is to scrap the two-child benefit cap?”

Work and pensions minister Jo Churchill replied: “I would gently say to (Ms Braverman) that I’m sure she’d agree that any system has to be balanced and fair for both the taxpayer, but also for those who need it most at the point of need.

“We have to make a system fair, I’d be more than happy to sit down with her and explain how we do that.”

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