Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Lloyd is urging Esther McVey, the new secretary of state for work and pensions, to make helping women affected by an increase in the state pension age one of her top priorities.
Mr Lloyd, MP for Eastbourne and Willingdon, and frontbench spokesman on work and pensions, said the most practical way of doing so would be for the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) “to make a sizeable transition payment to each of the affected women to the tune of £15,000 payable immediately, tax free”.
The Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) movement claims that while the 1995 Conservative government’s Pension Act included plans to increase the women’s state pension age to 65 – the same as men’s – the changes were implemented unfairly, with little or no personal notice.
The group also claimed the changes were implemented faster than promised with the 2011 Pension Act and left women with no time to make alternative plans, leading to devastating consequences.
Mr Lloyd said: “It is clear that all the political parties in government comprehensively failed these women.
“A lamentable lack of communication right from the original pensions act in 1994 has left many of them – Waspi women – feeling let down, ignored and totally under-valued. This injustice must be urgently addressed.”
His solution won’t make up for all the loss, he said, but it “will be seen as a genuine attempt by the government to make amends for the shambolic roll-out of the increase in women’s pension age way back from the very beginning, in the mid 1990s.”
This is not the first solution proposed by Mr Lloyd, who in December called for the government to abandon its plan to cut corporation tax to 17 per cent by 2020 and use that money to help the Waspi women.
Waspi was the subject of a recent debate in December in the House of Commons, with minister for pensions and financial inclusion, Guy Opperman, saying that providing full transitional state pension arrangements to women born in the 1950s would potentially increase inequality.
He said: “We are creating an unnecessary generation of women many of them relying on food banks, some of whom forced to sell their homes and forced to rely on the benefits system, [this] is degrading for them.”
In November, it was revealed that the Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman has intervened to speed up responses to complaints from Waspi against the DWP, regarding what they call an inadequate communication of changes to the state pension age.