WASPI end of year message –  December 2023

Another busy year for the Campaign. Since the PHSO confirmed Maladministration by the DWP in July 2021, we have worked hard to keep our issue in the Media and in the minds of MPs.

While there is still a distance to travel before we see what a political commitment to fair and fast compensation might look like from the main parties, the support WASPI has received puts the campaign in good stead ahead of the release of the Ombudsman’s report. It is worth noting that whatever the PHSO comes up with Parliament will need to take action to put any compensation scheme in place.

JANUARY 2023: Telling women’s stories

A crucial part of the campaign is telling our stories to the media to maximise the public understanding of the issues WASPI women face.

January saw us kick off the year with a series of profiles of WASPI women who courageously told their stories of how last-minute State Pension age changes affected them. Since then, we have seen countless women sharing their stories across the newspapers and the television to help keep our calls for fair and fast compensation firmly in the public’s mind.

FEBRUARY 2023: Labour MP Roundtable

We were delighted to welcome two dozen Labour MPs to our Parliamentary Roundtable in February, hosted by Andrew Gwynne MP as State Pension Inequality for Women APPG Co-Chair.

We received countless messages of support from Labour MPs from across the party, leading to a meeting with the then Shadow Pensions Minister, Matt Rodda.

MARCH 2023: Successful legal challenge

We are incredibly grateful to the thousands of women and supporters who raised a six-figure sum via Crowdjustice in just two weeks to take on the Ombudsman’s flawed provisional report.

WASPI was proved right, with our successful action in the High Court seeing an out-of-court settlement agreed, with the Ombudsman forced to re-write his report. The remaining legal funds will be used to support further action, if necessary, in the coming months as we await the final recommendations to be made public in the New Year.

APRIL / MAY 2023: Support from MPs with the Ombudsman

In the weeks following WASPI’s successful legal challenge, more than 160 cross-party MPs wrote to the Ombudsman, calling on him to back our calls for a thorough and balanced re-investigation of women’s experiences and subsequent impacts in their provisional findings.

Serving ministers and shadow cabinet members also rallied behind our 10-point plan for justice, relaying our calls directly to DWP ministers and the Prime Minister in light of our successful legal challenge.

JUNE 2023: WASPI in the media

WASPI released the findings from a poll of more than 7,000 WASPI women in the summer which highlighted the ongoing impact of State Pension age changes.

Securing coverage across major newspapers including The Mirror and Daily Express, our poll shows that one-third of WASPI women have experienced debt in the last six months, with one-in-four struggling to buy food and basic essentials.

 JULY 2023: Downing Street petition

In July, a petition signed by more than 50,000 WASPI woman was delivered to Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, on Downing Street.

We were delighted to be joined by WASPI campaigners from the across South Coast and Labour MP Stephen Morgan to present the petition.

AUGUST 2023: WASPI in the media

In the summer months our campaign received more than a thousand pieces of news coverage following the tragic news that more than 250,000 women had died since the campaign began in 2015. Courageous WASPI women shared their experiences across newspaper, television and radio.

Together, WASPI women told their stories to millions of people up and down the country and remembered those we have tragically lost their lives since the campaign began.

SEPTEMBER 2023: Conservative MP Roundtable

A number of Conservative MPs, as well as serving ministers and representatives from the DWP ministerial team attended our roundtable hosted by Peter Aldous MP, State Pension Inequality for Women APPG Co-Chair.

Since then, we have seen strong cross-party consensus for fair and fast compensation with numerous Conservative MPs speaking in Parliament on the issue.

SEPTEMBER 2023: Liberal Democrats Conference

WASPI received a very warm reception at the Liberal Democrats autumn conference in Bournemouth.

We were joined by MPs and a dozen Parliamentary candidates – in likely Lib Dem seats after the next election – who affirmed their commitment to delivering fair and fast compensation at our briefing session.

OCTOBER 2023: Labour Party Conference

WASPI campaigners were delighted to return to Liverpool for Labour’s annual conference. We caught up with the Shadow Pensions Ministers and hundreds of members and elected representatives across the country who shared their own experiences of campaigning locally.

NOVEMBER 2023: Provisional report issued by PHSO

Towards the end of November, the PHSO released his provisional views on Injustice and Remedy to all 506 complainants and their MPs. Our lawyers, Bindmans, are subjecting this report to the same scrutiny as previously, and we will submit a robust response to the Ombudsman within the deadline.

DECEMBER 2023: New co-chair for the APPG and results of the pre-Christmas Survey

8056 women participated in the pre-Christmas survey between 17th November and 1stDecember.

They told us that:

– 48.64% of WASPI women will struggle to buy presents this Christmas

– 60.58% have been unable to socialise with family or friends

– 70.13% of WASPI women will have reduced their weekly spending and will cut their food shop this Christmas; and

– 55.10% of WASPI women say their economic position has got worse in the past six months; 40.56% say it’s stayed roughly the same, while only 3.03% say its improved

Andrew Gwynne, long term supporter of WASPI and co-chair of the APPG on the State Pension Age for women has decided to step down and concentrate on his Shadow Front Bench commitments. We look forward to Andrew’s continued support. He will be replaced as co-chair by Rebecca Long-Bailey, another long term WASPI supporter.

What does 2024 hold for WASPI?

It is likely that a General Election will be called sometime during the year, and we have already started thinking about what we will need to do to make sure every candidate knows WASPI’s ask for Fair and Fast Compensation, and that their stance on WASPI during the election campaign matters to voters, especially 1950s women voters.

The final report from the PHSO’s investigation should be issued in 2024, although we don’t know when. At the PHSO’s instigation, the deadline for comments on the provisional report has been extended to 19th January.

We will be taking a break for Christmas until the 2nd of January 2024.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.

WASPI Management Team