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DREW HENDRY: I’ve been proud to stand resolutely alongside WASPI campaigners

By Drew Hendry

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Drew Hendry has demanded that the affected women be compensated for changes to their pension age, which have left them massively out of pocket.
Drew Hendry has demanded that the affected women be compensated for changes to their pension age, which have left them massively out of pocket.

After years of fighting for justice, WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) campaigners - including over 7000 women living here in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey - have reached a pivotal moment in their campaign.

The results of a long-awaited report from the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman stated the need for compensation for these women impacted by the changes to state pension age.

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This report confirmed what we have known all along – the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) failed to adequately inform women on the changes, leading to this mass injustice.

These women have spent many years tirelessly campaigning for what is right, all because of a carelessly handled decision, made many years ago, to adjust pension qualifying ages for women from 60 to 65, increasing to 66 from 2020.

What is shocking is that, since the start of their campaign in 2015, it’s estimated that 260,000 WASPI women have passed away, never seeing the justice they deserved.

I’ve been proud to stand resolutely alongside these women in their campaign for justice since I was first elected, however, that it has taken until now, for even this report and its conclusion, is shameful.

The UK government should act without further delay and rectify the wrong that has gone ignored for too long, by offering fair and swift compensation. The Labour Party, too, must give a cast-iron guarantee to act.

This injustice goes even beyond the UK government finally stepping up to do the right thing. There is a real and tangible impact that these women have to live with every day. It is estimated that 70 per cent of WASPI women have had to reduce their weekly spending and cut back on their food shop in the last six months alone.

This is avoidable, but it comes down to whether the Chancellor is willing to think about those financially vulnerable women, those who are struggling to make ends meet and put food on the table.

The Spring Budget revealed there is no interest in helping those who need it most. We know this all too well from the cost-of-living crisis that has been allowed to impact folk for far too long, with no real support being offered. We cannot accept that.

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