Suffolk campaigners 'hopeful' of compensation for pension age women
- Credit: Karen Sheldon
Campaigners in Suffolk have welcomed a ruling which found the government was too slow to tell many women near retirement they would be affected by the rising state pension age.
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) said the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) failed to act quickly enough once it knew a significant proportion of UK women were unaware of the changes.
The PHSO said the DWP should have written to affected women at least 28 months earlier than it did.
The ruling has raised the prospect of women born in the 1950s being eligible for compensation after the state pension age was raised in line with men from 2020.
A campaign group, Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI), was founded in 2015 in response to the change.
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Karen Sheldon, coordinator of the Suffolk branch of WASPI, revealed the decision had affected more than 6,500 women in the county.
She said members of the group had quit their jobs and retired early as they were not expecting to work past the age of 60.
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After the PHSO's ruling, Mrs Sheldon said: "This decision will take the movement forward. We are very pleased, but also very angry that it's taken this long to be recognised.
"This has impacted not only women, but their families' lives. People have left jobs and made poor decisions based on insufficient information.
"We've been thrown into a muddy hole, and it's shocking and shameful.
"It's time to compensate the women born in the 1950s and put right this historic wrong. We're more than hopeful of compensation."
Caroline Page, the Lib Dem, Green and Independent spokesperson for women in Suffolk, said: "Any positive news is welcome. This has led to poverty and, in some cases, despair.
"If there are issues, compensation should be paid to those who need it most."
Waveney MP Peter Aldous, speaking to Andrew Gwynne's website, called for a "cross-party effort" in parliament to compensate women affected.
He added: "This issue is bigger than any administration and has been raised repeatedly over the last 25 years.
"The PHSO findings must now be scrutinised by the DWP and parliament, and then we must set out about compensating women for this injustice."