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Arran’s MP, Patricia Gibson, has urged the UK government to redress the pensions injustice inflicted on women born in the 1950s after a detailed investigation by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) found serious failings in the way changes to the state pension age were handled.
The UK government, which accelerated the process of equalisation of pension ages for men and women, and its subsequent increase to 68 years old, were found to have ‘failed to act quickly enough once it knew a significant proportion of women were not aware of changes to their state pension age’. Many women born in the 1950s who expected to retire at 60 have lost thousands of pounds in pension payments without having sufficient time to plan for the changes.
Mrs Gibson, who has spoken in every House of Commons debate on this issue since she was elected in 2015 in support of the WASPI campaign, said: ‘In view of this ruling, which completely vindicates the WASPI campaign, I have written to the secretary of state for work and pensions, Therese Coffey MP, urging the UK Government to finally do right by these women.
‘There was a complete failure of communication by successive UK Governments. With the 1995 Act implementing changes from 2010, UK ministers only began writing to women affected from 2009 onwards – an appalling abdication of responsibility which showed no concern regarding the women adversely impacted by these changes.
‘In my own constituency alone, 6,900 women have been adversely affected by the changes, including many living on Arran. Expecting to retire at 60, instead many have been forced into poverty and onto benefits to survive.
‘These women worked hard; often raising families and looking after relatives too. They are our mothers, sisters, grannies and they have been abandoned as the UK Government’s handling of these changes amounted to little better than theft.
‘The entire state pension system has been undermined by this travesty, and the only correct and just course of action now is for the UK Government to fully and finally compensate these women for their lost pensions, and apologise for the unnecessary hardship these changes inflicted.’
More than 3.8 million women were affected by the decision to alter the state pension age for women with little notice, including a number of women on Arran, who have campaigned with local and national WASPI groups.