Tag Archives: WASPI

The news in brief: Vox Political’s morning round-up for June 1, 2023

Paul Whitehouse, Lee Mack and Steve Coogan at Lake Windermere: here are three protesters who would be criminalised by Suella Braverman for causing “more than minor” disruption to other people’s day-to-day activities.

Right to protest: UK politicians urged to ‘do the right thing’

Peter Stefanovic’s emotional video clip demands that members of all Opposition parties in the House of Lords support Jenny Jones’s ‘fatal motion’ and kill Suella Braverman’s bid to stifle everybody’s right to protest with an undemocratic ‘Ministerial decree’. Let’s give him a moment to explain it:

Government hasn’t spoken to strikers since January

The general secretary of rail union ASLEF says the government hasn’t spoken to its representatives in almost five months because the Tories aren’t interested in ending strike action on the railways:

43 MPs throw support behind justice for WASPI women

From the i:

So far 43 MPs have written to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO), calling for a speedy conclusion to its review of how much damage was caused by the way the pension age changes were communicated to women born in the 50s, and for fair compensation.

Among the 43 MPs are Ranil Jayawardena of the Conservatives, former leader of the Liberal Democrats Tim Farron, former Labour Party chair Ian Lavery and Caroline Lucas of the Green Party.

The PHSO could recommend compensation anywhere from £100 to £10,000 or more per person.

Women born in the 50s claim they were not given enough notice that their state pension age would rise from 60 to 65, in line with men. It then moved to 66 for both sexes.

Many women retired early or made life-changing decisions based on getting their pension at 60. The ramifications of the policy change and lack of notice has left them in emotional and financial distress, they say.

Their plight is under review by the PHSO, which has already found the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) guilty of maladministration for failing to sufficiently inform the women about the state pension age changes.

Though the PHSO maintains its investigation is fair and impartial, it decided to take another look at its findings after recognising part of the report was legally flawed. This move has raised hopes of a higher compensation award, although it is not guaranteed.

As Waspi awaits the results of the review, which could come before summer, it is urging supporters to contact their MP to put pressure on the PHSO to “complete the investigation with a sense of urgency” and make “fair” recommendations for compensation.

Latest Universal Credit change will leave parents worse-off

From The Canary:

BBC News reported that the DWP will be rolling out a change to the amount it pays in childcare costs to parents/guardians. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced it in his Spring Budget. Until now, the department has paid £646 a month, per kid, towards childcare costs under Universal Credit. Now, as BBC News wrote:

The government will allow parents on the benefit to claim back £951 for childcare costs for one and £1,630 for two or more children – a 47% increase.

Universal Credit’s increase in childcare costs payments is still nonsense.

The cost of childcare is huge:

  • For full-time childcare, the average cost is £285 a week.
  • For part-time, it’s £148 a week.

The DWP’s £951 maximum for one child is per Universal Credit assessment period. That’s usually a calendar month – running from the same date one month to the next. So, on that basis the department would pay, at the most, £219 a week.

This is £66, or 23%, short of the average costs. Meanwhile, in 2022 parents were already paying out up to two-thirds of their wages on childcare.

DWP secretary of state Mel Stride has trumpeted about the news. Stride said: “These changes will help thousands of parents progress their career without compromising the quality of the care that their children receive. By helping more parents to re-enter and progress in work, we will be able to cut inactivity and help grow the economy.”

Stride’s claim of the DWP ‘helping parents re-enter’ work is based on parents effectively being worse off in work.

Labour policy pledges need a 3p income tax rise

From the i:

Labour’s policy pledges so far would cost the equivalent of a 3p rise in income tax, i analysis reveals.

Sir Keir Starmer has promised not to borrow for day-to-day spending, and to bring down the size of the overall public debt pile as a percentage of GDP.

Analysis by i suggests that Labour’s policies will require an additional £20bn of funding every year – the equivalent of raising the basic rate of income tax by more than 3p – beyond that already promised through small tax increases such as imposing VAT on private school fees and ending non-domiciled tax status.

Labour’s biggest recurring spending commitment is to extend free childcare to all children aged 11 and under, promised by shadow Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson earlier this year. The IPPR think-tank estimates the cost at almost £18bn, although taking into account the Government’s own childcare plans announced at the last Budget the net cost would be more like £13.6bn. The party said that an expansion of childcare to all children is not its current policy despite Ms Phillipson’s promise.

The pledge to increase the foreign aid spending target to 0.7 per cent of GDP, after Rishi Sunak cut it to 0.5 per cent, would cost around £5.5bn; party sources say this will only be implemented when it is affordable to do so. Labour has promised to set up a £1bn “contingency fund” for the energy industry, and would also have to spend around £1.7bn on GPs’ salaries if it went through with plans by shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting to nationalise the network of family doctors in England – something which the party now says it will not do.

Other current spending commitments which would total less than £1bn each include increasing the number of mental health workers, recruiting more police officers and setting up breakfast clubs in every primary school.

There’s a lot in the i‘s list that Labour now says it won’t do. Doesn’t this suggest that Keir Starmer is really planning just a continuation of the current neoliberal Conservatism that is pushing the UK further towards ruin every day?

Also, considering the Tories gave £800 billion to very rich people for no very good reason, This Writer can’t see why Labour couldn’t produce £20 billion from the same place, and then tax the rich to keep the books in balance and prevent any inflation.


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WASPI women win victory over Ombudsman in pension-age change row

The campaigning group Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) has won an out-of-court victory in its battle to get compensation for women born in the 1950s whose pension age has been raised by government decision.

WASPI is not arguing that the pension age should not have been raised, stating that this was done by democratic government decision – but that the way the Department for Work and Pensions provided information about it meant that women were unable to make appropriate choices that they would have made if they had known earlier that their State Pension age would increase, and that this has had emotional and financial impacts on their lives.

The group is arguing for fair, fast and straightforward compensation for the emotional and financial losses – both direct losses and lost opportunities – that women have suffered.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman has been charged with producing three reports. The first was to establish whether there was maladministration by the DWP in failing to inform affected women that they would not receive their pension when they expected to do so, and that they should make appropriate financial plans.

That report has been published and has stated that there was maladministration.

The second report was to establish whether six sample complainants had suffered any direct financial loss because of DWP maladministration, or any loss of opportunities to make different financial choices.

That report was published and stated that none of them had suffered any such losses.

WASPI argued that the Ombudsman’s reasoning was legally flawed and this would impact on decisions affecting all 1950s born women who were victims of the DWP’s maladministration and said it would bring a judicial review if he would not withdraw the Stage 2 report and think again.

A decision last week means the Ombudsman will indeed withdraw that report.

It is now considered to be legally flawed, and a court will be asked to make a quashing order (because the Ombudsman has no power to withdraw a report that has been sent to complainants and MPs).

The Ombudsman will then reconsider the question of injustice in a re-written second report that must be changed to accommodate the agreement that the original report was flawed.

When a new second report is accepted, the process will move on to a third report which will consider what remedies are necessary for the injustices done to 3.6 million women.

It must also consider whether such remedies should be given to the estates of women who have died in the time since the change to their state pension age was announced.

You can find more complete details here.

This Writer’s view is that this is not a total victory; the Ombudsman may merely seek – and find – another excuse to deny women born in the 1950s any compensation for the injustice they have suffered and campaigners need to be aware of that.

And WASPI accepts that it doesn’t speak for all women who have been disadvantaged by the pension age change. Some are campaigning for full compensation – payment of the amount of pension they would have received if the age change had not happened. WASPI does not think the government will accept such demands.

It is a step forward – but the battle for compensation is a long way from being over.


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Women in government pension trap are facing extreme financial hardship

WASPI protesters: it seems the government isn’t even bothering to engage with these ladies.

It must have been bad enough when the UK wasn’t in a Tory-created financial crisis, but now the strain on women who were born in the 1950s must be phenomenal.

These are women who weren’t properly informed that instead of retiring at the age of 60, as they expected, the government was raising the age at which they would receive a state pension to 66.

More than 200,000 women have died without receiving satisfaction from the government.

80 per cent of those affected have suffered financial hardship and 30 per cent are in debt. This could have been avoided if they had been properly informed of what was happening and its implications, according to campaigners.

One shocking aspect of this report is that the government hasn’t bothered to engage with campaigners since 2016.

Since then, the effects of Brexit, Covid-19 and the current inflation crisis have harmed millions of people across the UK – including these already-disadvantaged ladies.

But the Tory response is: can’t be bothered.

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#DWP bungled #Waspi women’s #pension-age rise. How long must they wait for #compensation?

WASPI protesters: this image is from 2016 and women born in the 1950s had already spent years protesting against the way the Department for Work and Pensions mistreated them.

The so-called Waspi women have finally won recognition that they were mistreated by the government, after an ombudsman found maladministration by the Department for Work and Pensions.

But they won’t get any compensation for it – at least, not yet – because the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) has no power to order it.

The PHSO found that the DWP failed to act quickly enough, once it knew a significant proportion of women were not aware that the age at which they would qualify for the state pension was going up.

It should have written to the women affected by the change, at least 28 months – more than two years – earlier than it did.

The ombudsman’s report said

Between 1995 and 2004, accurate information about changes to State Pension age was publicly available in leaflets, through DWP’s pensions education campaigns, through DWP’s agencies and on its website.

[But the DWP} failed to give due weight to relevant considerations, including what research showed about the need for ‘appropriately targeted’ information, what was known about the need for individually tailored information, or how likely it was doing the same thing would achieve different results. Despite having identified more it could do, DWP failed to provide the public with as full information as possible. DWP failed to make a reasonable decision about next steps in August 2005.

It did not ‘get it right’. And its failure to use feedback to improve service delivery meant it did not ‘seek continuous improvement’. That was maladministration.

DWP then failed to act promptly on its 2006 proposal to write directly to affected women, or to give due weight to how much time had already been lost since the 1995 Pensions Act.

It did not ‘get it right’ because it did not meet the requirements of the Civil Service Code, and it did not take all relevant considerations into account. And it failed again to use feedback to improve service delivery and ‘seek continuous improvement’. That was also maladministration.

The maladministration led to a delay in DWP writing directly to women
about changes in State Pension age. If the maladministration had not happened, DWP would have begun writing to affected women by December 2006 at the latest, 28 months earlier than it did (in April 2009).

It follows that affected women should have had at least 28 months’ more individual notice of the changes. For women who were not aware of the changes, the opportunity that additional notice would have given them to adjust their retirement plans was lost.

The investigation is not over; its next stage will consider the impact that the injustice had on the women it affected.

The co-chairs of the All-party parliamentary group on State Pension Inequality for Women, Andrew Gwynne (Labour) and Peter Aldous (Conservative) have both welcomed the findings.

“The DWP must urgently address these findings, and advise 1950s women what actions they will take to right the wrongs committed by successive Governments. For too long 1950s women have been ignored, and this must change,” said Mr Gwynne.

And Mr Aldous added: “We now must see a cross-party effort to sort this problem out. 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.”

It seems the DWP itself isn’t ready to comment yet:

Waspi women have already waited many years for an admission that they were mistreated by the government, and that they have suffered loss as a result.

It seems they may not have to wait even longer before getting any compensation for the loss they have suffered and the huge amount of distress it has caused.

Source: Women’s state pension: Compensation closer for Waspi campaigners – BBC News

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The Tories are cheating us out of our pensions – and our retirements

Arguments used by the Conservative government to justify increasing the age at which we may draw our pensions are increasingly false, it seems.

Fellow social media journalist David Hencke has all the information on his website.

He says the Tory claim is that as life expectancies continue to rise, it will be impossible for the pension fund to pay out for everybody unless the pensionable age rises too.

There’s just one problem:

Ministers always quote figures up to 2011… [the] last year of any big rise in longevity which had risen for decades.

Since then the rise has flattened – in one year it actually fell – and last year was the first in five years that showed a small rise. Next year the ONS is warning will be the first year they will have figures of the effects of Covid-19 – and the hint is that longevity will fall because of the disproportionate deaths among pensioners.

Worse still:

When you compare the UK to many other developed countries both men and women have lost out big time in the longevity stakes. The countries that make up the UK (with the exception of Northern Ireland) are all near the bottom of the table.

So while we all are being expected to wait longer for our pension in the UK, our extra weeks of life expectancy fall well below many comparable developed countries. We are being cheated – or at least not given the full facts – by our political leaders. So don’t believe any facile claims we have a world beating system for pensioners. Far from it.

The increased longevity argument was used strongly by the Department for Work and Pensions in its court battle to avoid paying compensation to 3.8 million women whose pension age rose from 60 to 66 – but who were not given enough warning to make proper preparations for it.

But our people aren’t living as much longer as people in other countries. What are those nations doing about pensions? And how are they doing it?

It seems clear that Mr Hencke is right and we are being cheated.

I wonder what we can do about it, if DWP representatives are prepared to perjure themselves in court to preserve a lie.

Source: The chances of living longer are getting shorter – new Office of National Statistics figures show only small rise in longevity | Westminster Confidential

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Call for Budget boost to tackle poverty and boost incomes is naive political optimism

Money: Boris Johnson is rolling in it but his policies have starved the UK of the cash that is the lifeblood of the economy.

Give the SNP its due: at least the Scottish nationalists are keeping Tory impoverishment of the public in the national conversation.

On the eve of the Budget 2020 statement, they are calling on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to boost the incomes of the poorest people.

But it’s never going to happen.

Not under a Tory government, anyway.

Tories like keeping people poor.

They planned a strategy to make us all poor, back in the 1970s – and have been following it faithfully ever since. Did you think the attack on trade unions and the dismantling of our industry was a mistake?

Think again.

We already know the call to abolish the Bedroom Tax will fall on deaf ears; the Tories just announced that they’re not lifting it from people who have suffered discrimination because of it, so they certainly won’t help anyone else.

We know that calls to halt Universal Credit until “fundamental flaws” are fixed – like the five-week wait for initial payments that push people deep into debt – won’t attract attention. Therese Coffey said last week that the five-week wait will remain.

And we know the Tories won’t boost support for pensioners; their contempt for the WASPI women is well-demonstrated.

Instead, we’re likely to see Mr Sunak announcing measures that appear to be generous without actually helping the majority of the people.

He’ll try to boost business – so very rich businesspeople will profit more.

And he’ll probably make good on some of the empty promises that Boris Johnson has already made – the extra NHS funding that the Tories say is the biggest boost in history, but isn’t; the doubling of flood defence funding that they were forced to announce out of embarrassment.

So don’t expect change of any value to you at all.

Just be ready to attack the Tories for their habitual cruelty.

Source: Budget 2020: Tories must reverse benefit cuts to tackle poverty and boost incomes – Welfare Weekly

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For 3.7 million older women, the choice in this election is between Labour and injustice

WASPI protesters: For these women in Norfolk it seems clear that voting Labour is their only opportunity to get justice.

When you’ve had tens of thousands of pounds taken away by the Conservatives in a historic injustice that they won’t correct, voting Labour for £58 billion in compensation is a no-brainer.

It might even cost Boris Johnson the general election.

Mr Johnson has exhibited a callous indifference to the plight of the so-called WASPIs (Women Against State Pension Inequality):

Don’t be mollified by his tone; it is simply an attempt to mask the fact that he is quite happy to plunge millions into poverty by stealing the pensions they have spent decades funding and to which they are entitled.

Labour, on the other hand, is offering compensation.

The party agrees with the WASPI women that the decision to change their pension age without giving them proper notification was a ” betrayal” that “left millions of women with no time to make alternative plans – with sometimes devastating personal consequences”.

The party’s manifesto has promised to “work with these women to design a system of recompense for the losses and insecurity they have suffered”.

And it says: “We will ensure that such an injustice can never happen again by legislating to prevent accrued rights to the state pension from being changed.”

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has added that Labour would pay the money as a “contingency”, comparing it with compensation the Conservative government had to pay to mesothelioma victims after losing a long-running legal battle last year.

Both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats have attacked Labour’s plan, saying it is unclear how it will be funded.

For the WASPI women and the 3.7 million people who have lost money due to the pension age rise, this makes it impossible to vote for the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.

These are people who have lost between £15,000 and £32,000 as a result of a decision to change their rights without letting them have any choice in the matter.

Even if they have been lifelong Tories or Liberals, that makes the choice obvious.

The Tories and Liberal Democrats are offering them worse than nothing; they are pushing these women towards poverty and debt.

Labour is offering them a way to avoid it.

Even if they have spent a lifetime opposing Labour, it is in their own interests to support that party this time.

Source: General election 2019: Labour pledges payouts to pension age rise women – BBC News

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Labour vows to help women affected by pension age changes after court lets them down

The Labour Party it will do what it can to compensate the so-called ‘WASPI’ protesters – Women Against State Pension Inequality – after the High Court ruled that the government had not discriminated against them on grounds of age and/or sex.

The government has implemented changes to the pension age for women, in order to equalise it with that for men, in a move that affected nearly four million women who were born in the 1950s – some became homeless as a result and many became suicidal.

They said not enough was done to publicise the changes and to ensure that those affected would be ready.

The UN committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women has said the rise in the pension age has added to “poverty, homelessness and financial hardship among the affected women”.

“The 1950s women helped build Britain and were let down by the government’s pension changes. They will understandably be very disappointed by today’s finding,” said shadow pensions minister Jack Dromey.

“Labour has already made commitments to support women affected, including by extending Pension Credit to hundreds of thousands of the most vulnerable women. We will consult further with the 1950s women affected as to what future support we can put in place once in government to help ensure that all these women have security and dignity in older age.”

Michael Mansfield QC, representing the women affected, added: “They have pushed women who were already disadvantaged into the lowest class you can imagine.

“They’re on the brink of survival, and I’m not overstating that. This group – especially the percentage of the group affected born in 1953 onwards – are increasingly having taken away from them four to six years’ worth of state pension. We’re dealing with very serious sums: £37,000 to £47,000. I think any citizen would be concerned by that withdrawal.”

In a summary of the court’s decision, Lord Justice Irwin and Mrs Justice Whipple said their hands were tied: “The court was saddened by the stories contained in the claimants’ evidence. But the court’s role was limited. There was no basis for concluding that the policy choices reflected in the legislation were not open to government. In any event they were approved by Parliament.

“The wider issues raised by the claimants about whether the choices were right or wrong or good or bad were not for the court. They were for members of the public and their elected representatives.”

In fact, it seems the only person happy about the verdict was Boris Johnsons spokesperson, who crowed that it has “always been our view” the changes made were “entirely lawful and did not discriminate on any grounds”.

“Government decided in 1995 it was going to make the state pension age the same for men and women as a long-overdue move towards gender equality,” the spokesperson said. “Today the court recognised the extensive communications that the Department for Work and Pensions made to publicise these changes over many years.”

Did it?

It seems clear that there’s only one way these pensioners are going to get compensation for this decision – made by a Tory government in 1995 and implemented by a Tory government in 2010:

Elect a Labour government.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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WASPI women stage noisy walkout of Commons after minister denies them pensions help

WASPI protesters (these were in Norfolk) [Image: Eastern Daily Press.]

Proceedings in Parliament became a little noisier than usual yesterday – and for a good reason:

I’ll let Labour’s Laura Pidcock explain:

Mr Opperman had just refused to provide any transitional help for women who are facing an increase in the age at which they will be paid the state pension.

Changes to the state pension age for women were introduced in Acts of Parliament in 1995 and 2011 and mean that, by 2020, 2.6 million women will have to wait until they are 66 before receiving their pension.

Mr Opperman, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said: “People living and staying healthier for longer is to be welcomed, but the Government must not ignore the fact that it also brings enormous financial and demographic pressures. The key choice that a Government face when seeking to control state pension spend is to increase the state pension age or pay lower pensions, with an inevitable impact on pensioner poverty. The only alternative is to ask the working generation to pay an ever larger share of their income to support pensioners.

“In July 2017 the Government published their first review of the state pension age, which set out a coherent strategy targeted at strengthening and sustaining the UK state pension system for many decades to come. It accepts the key recommendation of John Cridland’s independent review which was to increase the state pension age from 67 to 68 between 2037 and 2039.

“The review is clear about increasing life expectancy and the challenges it poses. People are living longer. Almost 6,000 people in the UK turned 100 in 2016, compared with 3,000 in 2002. By 2035 there will be more than twice as many people over 100 as there are now.”

It was while he was saying these words that the WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) representatives in the public gallery stood up and, at first, turned their backs on Mr Opperman, before shouting “Shame on you!” and staging a mass walkout.

This Writer can sympathise. Not only was Mr Opperman quoting inaccurate statistics about longevity – people have started living shorter lives since the Conservatives came to office – but he was also wrong about an increase in the amount working-age people would be asked to spend on pensions – the National Insurance fund for Great Britain was in surplus by nearly £21 billion in October last year, while the Northern Ireland fund was half a billion pounds in surplus, and there is no reason to believe that the transitional arrangements being requested would put that fund into deficit.

One particularly strong argument in favour of transitional arrangements is the fact that the women who are being affected were not given sufficient warning of the change and will suffer considerable financial difficulty as a result.

So the WASPI women were right; Mr Opperman should be ashamed.

The debate served a useful purpose – the Commons agreed to call on the Government to publish proposals to provide a non-means tested bridging solution for all women born on or after April 6, 1950, who are affected by changes to the State Pension age in the 1995 and 2011 Pension Acts.

No doubt the miserly Tories will refuse the request – they would rather provide useless tax breaks to bankers, after all – but their response will undoubtedly provide another nail in the coffin of the arrogant and incompetent minority Conservative government.


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The DUP’s support of WASPI women is important for a very clear financial reason

Theresa May (left) with Arlene Foster, the leader of the DUP [Image: Carl Court/Getty Images].

It is impossible for an administration to claim it is financially responsible – let alone that it will balance the books – when it has based the alliance by which it is clinging to power on spending a huge amount of money, only to have its new ally demand the spending of a huge amount more.

The cash is available, of course – the National Insurance fund is billions of pounds in credit, or at least that is what we’re told. The Tories are staying very quiet about that, which implies that they have an underhand plan for it.

And it seems the vote will go in favour of the Opposition – unless the Tory rebels pull their usual trick of backing down at the last minute, because they don’t want their disloyalty to humiliate their party (real meaning: cowardice).

So Theresa May is on a triple-loser: Her deal with the DUP is brought into question; her party cannot be trusted to back her; and she will be defeated in Parliament and unable to push through her own policy programme.

Theresa May faces the humiliation of a Commons defeat, as the Democratic Unionist Party prepares to side with Labour in a debate on women’s state pensions.

A petition on the issue is on course to gain enough signatories to be debated in the Commons, but the DUP has said it will vote against the Conservatives if they continue to refuse “justice” for the women, who have been hit by sharp accelerations in the state pension age.

It will also pile pressure on the Tories to finally help the so-called “Waspi women” (Women Against State Pension Inequality), who have been forced to wait longer than expected to retire.

The Waspi campaign group say the women’s “retirement plans have been shattered with devastating consequences”, because of confusing retirement changes, and demand compensation in the petition.

DUP MPs have already joined with Labour by demanding transitional help, describing it as a “moral duty” in a parliamentary motion.

Now Sammy Wilson, the DUP’s work and pensions spokesman, has told The Independent: “We stand by our manifesto commitment that this issue needs to be dealt with.

“The Government cannot go on with delay and delay on this until the women do finally qualify for their pension – or they die off.”

The DUP would almost certainly back Labour if the vote was to provide transitional help for those forced to delay retirement, Mr Wilson added. Some Tory backbenchers could also rebel, in a showdown expected over the next couple of months – having publicly voiced support for the women.

Source: Government faces humiliation as DUP poised to side with Labour over women’s pensions


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