‘Furious’ WASPI women ‘dig deep’ for new challenge

This week, Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) launched a fresh appeal in the next step of their campaign. The group has asked for support through a Crowdjustice appeal to fund a High Court judicial review against the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO).

In 2021, the PHSO found the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) was “inadequate” in its communication of female state pension age changes.

The investigation is still ongoing, with stage two of the process completed and closed in December 2022.

However, WASPI has taken issue with the way in which the PHSO case is progressing, arguing there are “inconsistencies” in the investigation.

The Crowdjustice appeal has gained popularity within the last week, and since its launch five days ago, 4,390 people have donated £70,475 at the time of writing.

It means WASPI has now reached two thirds of their initial £100,000 target, as it argues the PHSO has “failed to follow due process” in regard to their investigation of the DWP.

In 2021, the PHSO concluded there was maladministration on the part of the DWP, stating: “We consider that, if DWP had made a reasonable decision in August 2005 and then acted promptly, it would have written to affected women to tell them about changes to their state pension age by, at the latest, December 2006.”

However, WASPI stated the Ombudsman “appears to believe” most women would have not received the letters until much later – and argue this would have been “too late” for most to make different decisions about their retirement.

The campaign group has therefore argued the Ombudsman is “mistaken” about the impact maladministration had on WASPI women.

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WASPI also stated the Ombudsman has taken an “irrational approach” to examining the injustice maladministration caused.

Campaigners say women have been left “furious” by this approach, and are now forced to “dig deep” to fund a legal challenge.

Angela Madden, chair of WASPI, said: “The PHSO’s draft report is a catalogue of errors, which has left WASPI women furious. By definition, this group of women is not well-off, having been so badly failed by the system.  

“However, we are having to ask people to dig deep with any donation they can afford so we can keep the fight for justice alive. 

“The upcoming judicial review provides the opportunity for senior judges to force investigators to look again at the case.

“We are grateful to all those who have donated to support the action we are taking.”

Some women have shared their testimonies via the Crowdjustice site, describing how they have been affected.

One woman named Susan wrote: “Us women have been short changed – it’s really not fair. We worked and we brought our children up without Government help.”

Another called Linda said: “Never had a letter or notification, still working full time. Too knackered to have a life other than work. It is disgraceful. No one knew!”

A man named Paul said: “My wife was seriously affected by this decision and as such we had to downsize so she could retire at 60.”

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A PHSO spokesperson this week told Express.co.uk they are considering what action the DWP should have taken, to put right the injustice found.

The spokesperson said: “We have shared provisional views with complainants, their MPs and DWP. 

“Once we have considered further evidence we will publish a full report on our findings.”

A DWP spokesperson added: “The Government decided over 25 years ago that it was going to make the state pension age the same for men and women as a long-overdue move towards gender equality.

“Both the High Court and Court of Appeal have supported the actions of the DWP, under successive governments dating back to 1995, and the Supreme Court refused the claimants permission to appeal.”

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