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All quiet on the WASPI front

The government has yet to mention the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaign since the general election on 8 June, even the Queen’s Speech failed to allude to the controversial topic. With a recent survey finding that women expecting to retire in 2017 will be £6,400 a year worse off than men, the gender issue seems more relevant than ever.

WASPI aims to tackle the pensions inequality which has seen women born in the 1950s given little or no notice that they will have to work an extra six years before receiving their State Pension. The group is calling for a ‘bridging’ pension to support 3.5million women affected by the changes. With silence from the government, Stuart Price, Partner and Actuary at pensions specialist Quantum Advisory, looks into what the options might be.

Stuart said: “It appears that many women had little or no notice of the increase to their State Pension, which has resulted in many having to carry on working or live on reduced income until their State Pension eventually comes into payment. I agree this is unfair and understand the argument for some form of compensation, but in the current economic climate it is difficult to see where the money that WASPI is asking for would come from.

“One possible option could have been to remove the triple lock from the State Pension, which the Conservatives pledged to do in their manifesto, and use some of the proceeds to fund the compensation. However, with the government’s deal with the DUP, one of the conditions was to retain the triple lock, so this is now out of the question. Interestingly, to win the DUP over, an additional £1bn was promised for Northern Ireland. This money also could have been used to part fund the compensation.

“Even if there was a way to provide the ‘bridging’ pension, given the Conservatives and DUP did not support WASPI’s campaign in their manifestos and nothing was mentioned in the Queen’s Speech, at this current time I cannot see any form of compensation being paid. If the campaign continues to gather support of the public and MPs as is happening, then the government will have to take notice and may be inclined to take action. I suspect we haven’t seen the last of this and it will be interesting to see how it unfolds.”

Stuart Price, Partner and Actuary at Quantum Advisory