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Argyll & Bute MP Brendan O’Hara says mistakes that kept women in the dark over changes to their state pension age must be rectified with ‘utmost urgency’.
Mr O’Hara is demanding equality for 6,700 women affected across his constituency and 3.8 million UK wide.
He wants the UK Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to take immediate action after a report by the Parliamentary & Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) found the DWP failed to take adequate account of the need for targeted and individually tailored communication on state pension age changes for women born in the 1950s.
The report also found even once aware of those mistakes, the DWP continued to take the same action despite knowing it was not working. The Ombudsman said the DWP’s failures amounted to ‘maladministration’.
PHSO chief executive Amanda Amroliwala said their investigation found the DWP, ‘failed to act quickly enough once it knew a significant proportion of women were not aware of the changes to their State Pension age’, and that it ‘should have written to the women affected at least 28 months earlier than it did’.
In a letter to the Secretary of State for DWP Therese Coffrey, Mr O’Hara said: ‘These
failings have had a huge impact on the lives of so many women in my constituency, bringing untold worry and stress for them and their families over their financial future. It is therefore vital that you and your department address the findings outlined in the PHSO’s report to ensure justice is secured for all the women impacted by these changes.’
The MP is a staunch supporter of the UK-wide WASPI (Women Against State Pension
Inequality) campaign and its Argyll & Isles group, raising the subject in the
House of Commons on numerous occasions.
Mr O’Hara added: ‘The women – and men – involved in the WASPI campaign, including the Argyll & Isles group, have worked so hard to keep this issue in the spotlight and have this inequality rectified and rightly so.’
And he pledged to continue to support campaigners as they wait for the next stage of the Ombudsman report to be published.
Argyll & Isles WASPI organiser Ann Greer said 1950s born women in Argyll & Bute have been campaigning about state pension age changes since 2015 and appreciate Mr O’Hara’s continued support.
‘It is time for the UK Government to stop conflating our Ask as if we are campaigning for women’s state pension age to be returned to 60. We are not. DWP’s response to Ombudsman’s first report did likewise; WASPI is not opposed to state pension age equalisation. Men and women have retired at the same age, for some time now. Our issue is with the way this was done. PHSO has now proven that maladministration has occurred,’ Ms Greer said.
‘We await the next stages in the PHSO’s investigation and hope that they advise the UK Government to put things right,’ she added.