Last month, I wrote about how 1950s-born women were finally vindicated by the findings of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s investigation into the Department for Work and Pensions. The PHSO found that there had been maladministration committed by successive DWP administrations in the communication of changes to state pension age, and that the lack of communication left 1950’s-born women unable to sufficiently prepare for the changes to their state pensions.
I have devoted a large portion of my parliamentary career to fighting for justice for the more than 3.8 million women who have been subjected to poor communication, faced gross injustice, and been ignored by successive Governments. I have heard harrowing stories from women who have had their lives quite literally destroyed by a lack of clarity from the DWP. I’ve stood with WASPI protesters outside Parliament and witnessed first-hand the extraordinary amount of time and effort they put in on a daily basis to fight for a fair resolution. Their determination is inspiring, and they deserve to be heard.
There are several ways that the Government can address the concerns of these women, and I hope to see real engagement from the DWP on the possibility of compensatory welfare policies to help address the dreadful way in which 1950s-women have been treated. I was extremely disappointed last month to read about the proposed plans to move the qualifying age for free prescriptions in England from 60 to 66. This is precisely the kind of policy the Government should be avoiding. It is entirely self-defeating, could negatively impact people’s health in the run up to their retirement, and risks further punishing an age group which has already been disproportionately impacted by DWP mismanagement.
Once Parliament reconvenes on the 6th of September, I will take the fight back to the DWP and continue to work tirelessly find a resolution to this seemingly endless issue.
At some point something has to give, and solving this problem should not be party political. Every single MP who sits in the House of Commons has constituents who are victims of this injustice. WASPI in Greater Manchester estimates that there are over 99,000 1950s-born women who have suffered because of DWP maladministration. The Government cannot keep ignoring something which has affected so many women up and down the country.
It’s time that parliamentarians of all stripes put their heads together and righted this wrong once and for all. 1950’s-born women are dying without justice and suffering with the consequences of something which was entirely out of their control. Enough is enough.