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A campaign group in Argyll has welcomed a significant breakthrough in a long-running pensions dispute affecting 3.8 million women in the UK.
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) has found ‘maladministration’ in the way the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) communicated changes to the state pension age for women.
The independent watchdog has been investigating complaints the department ‘failed to provide accurate, adequate and timely information’ to women affected and has published an 84-page parliamentary report.
It will now investigate whether those failings caused an ‘injustice’.
Argyll & Isles WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) welcomed the findings and has called on the UK Government to ‘fully compensate’ those affected.
Locally, 6,700 women across the area, who were born in the 1950s, were affected, with many losing as much as £50,000, the group said in a statement.
It said: ‘Women in WASPI Argyll and Isles have said they don’t know of anybody who received a letter from DWP, out of all their friends and colleagues.
‘So they couldn’t prepare for the loss of money and can never make it up in their sixties, even if they can get a job or are in good health.
‘Some took redundancy or resigned thinking money they had would last until 60.
‘State pension compensation needs to come soon as it’s a time-sensitive issue for women in our sixties with some approaching 70.
‘Many voice fears that they won’t receive anything because they won’t be here if it’s not resolved soon.
‘Sadly, some have already died without receiving much or any state pension, having paid into it for 40 plus years, as some started work at the age of 15.
‘We need action to remedy this or even more older women will be living in poverty, exacerbated by the gender pay and pension gap.’
The national WASPI group said the findings ‘reinforced’ what it knew all along.
It said: ‘The DWP’s own research showed that women were not sufficiently aware of the changes, yet they failed to act.
‘This inaction had devastating and life-altering impacts on women across the country.
‘These women have been waiting for many years for compensation. We cannot wait any longer.
‘We are calling on the government to agree fair and adequate compensation for WASPI women rather than allow what has become a vicious cycle of government inaction to continue.’