Letter to the Editor: Local MP fails WASPI women

MW
21 Mar 2024
Mark Wooding, Angela Madden (WASPI) and Wendy Chamberlain

Dear Editor

Local MP fails WASPI women

I’m going to make a wild prediction that in the various local newspapers that publish local Conservative MP Mel Stride’s ‘Weekly Column' he’s going to make a big claim that his government has solved the cost-of-living crisis (not true) and conveniently ignore his own government department failing women on pensions. A failure that has plunged many thousand of them into a deeper cost-of living-crisis.

In 1995 the then Conservative Government decided to increase pension retirement age. It was done for good reason, although it impacted women more significantly than men. That phased introduction was then accelerated by the coalition government in 2011. The problem with both these changes is that they were poorly communicated to women who were then effectively left with no, or little, time to change their plans for their retirement. That is an especial problem for women, who often take time out of work to raise children and so make smaller national insurance contributions, on which pensions are calculated. The net result has been to plunge many thousand of women into poverty just as they retire.

The failure to properly communicate the changes was made clear in a report by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) in 2021, and now in 2024 the PHSO has indicated that the government should compensate the women affected.

Mr Stride is the Pensions Minister and could have accepted the PHSO report and sorted out a fair settlement for the affected women. Instead his department is deploying that well-known delaying tactic of ‘considering the report’. Frankly it is not good enough. The Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) group estimate one affected women dies every 13 minutes. Dies uncompensated.

It is estimated that within Mr Stride’s constituency, Central Devon, there are some 6,820 women affected by the changes. They of course can express their opinion about Mr Stride when the General Election comes. I will give this commitment to them. If I am elected as MP for Central Devon it will be a priority to resolve this scandal.

Yours sincerely

Mark Wooding

Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate Central Devon

p.s. And falling inflation does not fix the cost-of-living crisis, it just mean things are getting more painful a little less quickly.