How to apply for WASPI compensation payout, how much you could be owed and what it stands for

By Staff

Millions of WASPI women could be entitled to compensation due to failings by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to communicate State Pension changes properly. The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) says women born between April 1950 and April 1960 are ‘owed’ money because increases in the State Pension age, from 60 to 66, were not communicated properly.

The ombudsman has urged Parliament to intervene as the government has only said it will respond ‘in due course’. Their report tells the DWP to apologise to the WASPI women and pay them compensation however an ombudsman spokesperson told the BBC: “Department for Work and Pensions has clearly indicated that it will refuse to comply.”

The report comes after a five-year-long investigation by the ombudsman into the DWP. It has been nearly ten years since the Women Against State Pension Inequality campaign group – or WASPI for short – launched a campaign for compensation.

READ MORE: New WASPI calculator shows if you’re entitled to DWP payout

How much could I be owed?

Around 2.6 million women have been affected by the DWP error. The PHSO report suggests a payout between £1,000 and £2,950 for each of them – a total bill for the taxpayer of nearly £7.7 billion.

This compensation was recommended by the PHSO as proportionate. It has the power to suggest six levels of compensatory payout and has opted to recommend a level 4. This lands between £1,000 and £2,950 to recognise the ‘significant’ and ‘lasting impact’ suffered by many women who were not told the Government was bringing forward by two years the date at which the State Pension age would rise to 65, from 2020 to 2018. The age then rose again to 66 by 2020.

The Coalition Government ‘sped up’ the age rise, which was meant to happen gradually between 2010 and 2020 under the original plans. However the final date for the age rising to 65 was brought forward to 2018, throwing retirement plans into chaos. Another amendment saw it rise again to 66 by October 2020.

Use our calculator below to find out what you could be owed:

However, the DWP has argued that compensation at Level 3, below £1,000, would be ‘consistent’ with previous payouts made to claimants. The government has not yet confirmed that any level of compensation will be paid to the affected women.

But WASPI campaigners have demanded ‘a proper compensation package’ with a payout set at Level 6, which is £10,000 or more. Conservative MP Peter Aldous, vice-chairman of the State Pension Inequality for Women All-Party Parliamentary Group, has supported the push for £10,000 compensation, the BBC reported.

He said that Parliament must agree on compensation in line with level 6 injustice. Aldous said: “These millions of women worked, cared for families, and supported communities all their lives. They deserve the dignity of fast compensation.”

Labour MP Rebecca Long-Bailey, fellow vice-chairwoman of the APPG, said: “The UK government must right this historic wrong, and go beyond the recommendations of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman and deliver fair compensation to these women as a matter of urgency.”

Has the compensation scheme been set up and how do I apply?

The compensation scheme has not been set up yet as the payout level is still a hot debate topic between MPs in Parliament and the government. However, looking at older compensatory schemes, it is likely that those affected can apply for the payout online on the government website.

In the meantime, you can submit a complaint to DWP here if you are unhappy with the service they have provided to you.

What does WASPI acronym stand for and who are WASPI women?

WASPI stands for Women Against State Pension Inequality. It is a campaign group fighting for women born between April 1950 and April 1960 who were affected by the State Pension age rising from 60 to 66 and were not properly informed about the change.

In 1995 John Major introduced the Pensions Act which set out a timetable to increase the qualifying age for the pension slowly between 2010 and 2020. However, David Cameron’s austerity interfered and he revised the Pensions Act in 2011 – shortening the timetable by two years and raising the overall pension age to 66 by 2020 – saving the government £30 billion.

Backlash ensued from the women affected – those born in the 1950s. They complained many women weren’t appropriately notified of the changes by the DWP back in 1995, with some only receiving letters about it 14 years after the legislation passed. Some even said they were notified just a year before they had expected to retire at 60 while more said they hadn’t been told at all. The 2011 change came with similar problems of poor notification.

So in 2015, the WASPI campaign was set up with an aim to get compensation for the women born in the 1950s who were affected. By 2018 they had secured a full-scale five-year inquiry into the DWP by the PHSO – the report of which has recently been published which has prompted the most recent calls for compensation.

‘No apology or explanation’

The PSHO said: “To date, DWP has not acknowledged its failings nor put things right for those women affected. DWP has also failed to offer any apology or explanation for its failings and has indicated it will not compensate women affected by its failure.

“DWP’s handling of the changes meant some women lost opportunities to make informed decisions about their finances. It diminished their sense of personal autonomy and financial control.”

A DWP spokesperson says: “We will consider the ombudsman’s report and respond in due course, having cooperated fully throughout this investigation. The government has always been committed to supporting all pensioners in a sustainable way that gives them a dignified retirement whilst also being fair to them and taxpayers.

“The State Pension is the foundation of income in retirement and will remain so as we deliver a further 8.5% rise in April which will increase the State Pension for 12 million pensioners by £900.”

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