Budget 2018: WASPI protest provokes ovation from Labour and SNP

Hannah Godfrey reports...

A protest staged by the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) group in the public gallery of the House of Commons after today’s Budget speech received a standing ovation from Labour and SNP MPs.

The protest took place shortly after chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond had finished his 65-minute-long speech. The speech made no mention of pensions, nor the plight of the WASPI women.

MPs from both the Labour party and the Scottish National Party (SNP) tweeted out support for the women.

SNP and youngest-ever MP Mhaira Black said the chancellor had “failed” the women.

Meanwhile Labour MP Dawn Butler suggested it was a shame the women had been “thrown out” so soon.

The WASPI campaign began in 2015 and challenges changes to the state pension age for women, first made in the 1995 Pensions Act and later accelerated in 2011. It argues the reforms have placed an unfair burden on hundreds of thousands of women born in the 1950s.

The government has persistently pushed back against the campaign, with pensions minister Guy Opperman describing calls to compensate the women “unaffordable“, while Tory MP Rachel McClean argued the government has already allocated £1bn to help the affected women, and proposed apprenticeships to encourage working in later life.