Remember holidays? Back in those heady pre-Covid days, we’d squirrel away money to splash out on restaurants by the beach, theme parks in the sun, or hurtling down mountains on a couple of planks of wood in the snow. Bliss.
Now imagine you’d been putting aside money for a big family holiday – one of those once in a lifetime adventures. But just before you were due to leave, the travel agent sends you a letter telling you that all that planning, all that saving, all that excitement had been for nought. The holiday had been rescheduled to happen in… six years.
This is what happened to 6,400 women in the Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath Constituency. Except, it’s not a holiday, it’s their state pension – all because the Department for Work and Pensions ‘failed to make reasonable decisions’ and were guilty of ‘maladministration’.
Not my words, but those of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman who has been tasked with looking into the whole sorry affair.
I am currently supporting 26 of the 6,400 so-called WASPI women in our local area. Every story I’ve heard from these women is laced with frustration and a burning sense of injustice, but also with a graciousness you might not expect from people who have been so badly let down by successive UK governments.
You see, the issue isn’t equalising the pension age of men and women. The WASPI Campaign – which is aiming to get justice for these women – explicitly states its support for equalisation.
The injustice is you have 3.8 million women across the UK who had been planning for a retirement that would begin at 60, only to be told a year before it was due to begin that, actually, they’d have to hold on another five or six years. And they’re the lucky ones. Many women have never received a letter from the DWP to inform them of the change.
I’ve joined colleagues from across the chamber to call out the disgraceful treatment of the WASPI women. But shout all we will, UK government ministers do not want to hear.
That’s why I held an event on Friday to give WASPI women an opportunity to share their experiences and views. I plan to use these insights to inform my next steps.
If you've been impacted by pension reform and would like to share your story, please send me an email: email@example.com