Labour’s £58bn WASPI pledge branded ‘regressive and appalling’

Hannah Godfrey reports...

The Labour party’s pledge to hand out £58bn to around 3.8 million women affected by the increases to state pension age has been criticised.

The pledge was first outlined in Labour’s manifesto, published last week, which vowed to “work with [1950s] women to design a system of recompense for the losses and insecurity they have suffered”. Over the weekend, the party revealed such a system would cost £58bn.

Speaking on Sky News on Sunday (24 November), shadow chancellor John McDonnell said: “This is an entitlement, not a benefit… this is a historic injustice, we have to address it.”

A spokesperson for WASPI welcomed Labour’s pledge: “WASPI is pleased to see a commitment from the Labour party to address the financial injustice faced by 3.8 million 1950s born women who did not receive fair notice of changes to their State Pension age.

“We await the detail with interest and urge the party to develop a clear framework which outlines how and when this would be implemented. We look forward to engaging with Labour to design this system of compensation and ensure that we achieve the best and fairest outcome for all 1950s born women at the earliest opportunity.”

The move was not welcomed universally, however, with some labelling the £58bn promise as “underfunded” and “appallingly expensive”.

Finance and economics writer and commentator Frances Coppola tweeted: “Labour’s £58bn handout to WASPI women is unfair, regressive and appallingly expensive. It is more than Labour’s entire investment budget and is completely unfunded. And it isn’t enough to satisfy the women. Already hardcore #Backto60 supporters are rejecting the proposal.”

 

Meanwhile Hargreaves Lansdown head of policy Tom McPhail said: “If I were a young voter, then I’d be pretty upset at Labour promising £58bn to the WASPI campaigners, freezing the state pension age at 66 and preserving the triple lock; I can’t think of a more effective set of policies to entrench intergenerational inequality.”

 

In 1995, the Conservative government’s State Pension Act included plans to increase women’s state pension age from 60 to 65 so that it was the same as men’s.

The WASPI campaign has alleged that because of the way the changes were brought in, women born in the 1950s were hit particularly hard. WASPI women have consistently argued the changes were imposed upon them without proper notice and much faster than expected, causing some financial hardship in retirement because they did not have enough time to re-plan their later life incomes.