State Pension Age Changes: Compensation

Work and Pensions – in the House of Commons at on 13 May 2024.

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Photo of Neale Hanvey Neale Hanvey Alba, Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath

What recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of providing compensation to women born in the 1950s affected by changes to the state pension age.

Photo of Mel Stride Mel Stride Chair, Treasury Committee, The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

The ombudsman’s report has been laid before Parliament and it is under active and considerable consideration at the present time.

Photo of Neale Hanvey Neale Hanvey Alba, Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath

A report in today’s Scottish Daily Express notes that seven in 10 members of the public support financial compensation for women born in the 1950s. If the Government will not act on the final report of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, which recommended compensation, will they now listen to the voice of the people and provide the proper financial redress that the Women Against State Pension Inequality absolutely deserve and are entitled to?

Photo of Mel Stride Mel Stride Chair, Treasury Committee, The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

There are a variety of opinions as to what the outcome of the ombudsman’s report should be. There are the ombudsman’s recommendations themselves, to which some people take a counter-view while others believe that there should be more by way of payments. We are potentially looking at very large sums indeed. It is important, therefore, and only fair to those on all sides of the argument, that we take an appropriate amount of time to consider the report thoroughly, which the ombudsman has also invited Parliament to consider.

Photo of Peter Bottomley Peter Bottomley Father of the House of Commons

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for reminding himself and us that the ombudsman has, unusually, suggested that Parliament should get involved. Some were asking for £10,000 compensation per person. The ombudsman has recommended between £1,000 and just under £3,000. Could the Secretary of State indicate whether he will make a decision, and, if so, when and how much?

Photo of Mel Stride Mel Stride Chair, Treasury Committee, The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

I thank my hon. Friend the Father of the House for his question. I cannot prejudge the outcome of the very detailed set of considerations. He makes reference to the amounts involved, which are considerable. As I have said, it is absolutely right that we look very carefully at the conclusions of that report and listen to what Parliament has to say in that respect.

Photo of Mike Amesbury Mike Amesbury Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government)

Roslyn Gilmore is one of several thousand WASPI women in my constituency. It has now been six weeks since we had the statement to the House, so I repeat the call again: when can we expect the response to the ombudsman’s report?

Photo of Mel Stride Mel Stride Chair, Treasury Committee, The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer that I have just given to the Father of the House. It has to be stressed, quite rightly, that the report was five years in the making, and that was—in part at least—due to the complexities of the matters under consideration. We are looking at those matters extremely carefully.

Photo of Marco Longhi Marco Longhi Conservative, Dudley North

Two things cannot be disputed. The first is that some women came to harm because of what happened. The second is that the report, and the assessments that came to pass prior to it, were a long time in the making. I encourage the Secretary of State to look into this matter not just carefully, as he says and I know he will, but at great pace.

Photo of Mel Stride Mel Stride Chair, Treasury Committee, The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

I have made it clear from the Dispatch Box that there will be no undue delay in coming to conclusions on this matter.

Photo of David Linden David Linden Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Social Justice)

In evidence to the Work and Pensions Committee on Tuesday, the ombudsman essentially said that the reason it decided to lay the report before Parliament was that it could not trust the Government to deal with it. I ask the Secretary of State a simple question: does he have confidence in the ombudsman, and does he accept its report?

Photo of Mel Stride Mel Stride Chair, Treasury Committee, The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

I have made our position extremely clear: we are considering the report and it will come back to the House in due course and without undue delay. The ombudsman has, as the hon. Gentleman indicated, invited the House to express its opinion as well. That is something that we will consider alongside the matters raised in the report.

Photo of David Linden David Linden Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Social Justice)

The Secretary of State is right to say that “in due course” is on people’s lips, because the reality is that 270,000 WASPI women have now died, as they do with every passing day. Indeed, nine WASPI women would have died in the time our Select Committee hearing took on Tuesday. Is not the issue here that the Government hope that this issue will be lost during the course of an election campaign, and that the two big parties can concoct a situation in which we ignore the matter, more women will die, and more 1950s women will be denied the justice that they deserve?

Photo of Mel Stride Mel Stride Chair, Treasury Committee, The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

I simply do not accept that that is a fair assessment of the very considerable time and effort that we are putting into taking this matter extremely seriously.