Campaigning Waspi women win further support from Portsmouth City Council

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THE campaign by women affected by the rising state pension age has again been publicly supported by Portsmouth City Council.

Councillors unanimously agreed to support a Labour motion calling on the government to produce an 'immediate compensation package' and backed the Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) campaign at Tuesday's full council meeting. A similar motion was also passed in 2016.

They said the 'injustice' had a 'profound effect' on thousands of people in the city with women left in poverty, a reduction in the number of volunteers and an impact on the economy through reduced spending power.

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Waspi campaigners in Guildhall Square, PortsmouthWaspi campaigners in Guildhall Square, Portsmouth
Waspi campaigners in Guildhall Square, Portsmouth

'Successive governments of all colours have failed to address the burden of inequality handed down to women born in the 1950s,' the motion's proposer George Fielding said.

The Waspi campaign focuses on those affected by the increase to the state pension age for women to 65 in order to match men, brought in through the 1995 Pensions Act and concerns that women had been unfairly treated with thousands saying they were unaware of the change.

Last year, the Parliamentary Ombudsman ruled the government had been too slow in informing those who would be affected.

Speaking at Tuesday's meeting, Solent Waspi member Kathryn Rimmington said this was a 'vindication' of concerns raised by the campaign but criticised the lack of response from the government.

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'It is difficult to accept state pension age equality as the destination when it has not been integral to the journey,' she said. 'Yet we have accepted equalisation of state pension ages and are not asking for the women’s state pension age to go back to 60.

'What we seek is compensation for the abject failure to communicate life-impacting changes to a cohort of women least equipped to withstand the financial shock, without adequate warning.'

Solent Waspi has been supported by the Portsmouth Pensioners' Association which said many women had lost tens of thousands of pounds.

After a Lib Dem amendment was agreed, the motion was unanimously approved and will require council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson to write to the two Portsmouth MPs, Pensions Secretary Mel Stride, and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer calling on them to support an 'immediate compensation package' of between £11,666 and £20,000 for everyone affected. It is estimated that this would cost between £44bn and £76bn.