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DREW HENDRY: It is time for the WASPI victims of injustice to receive their compensation

By Gavin Musgrove

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Waspi protestors at Westminster.
Waspi protestors at Westminster.

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.

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 current – or soon to be new - Chancellor is willing to think about those financially vulnerable women, those who are struggling to make ends meet and choosing between putting food on the table or heating their homes.

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.

Whilst the news from this belated report was welcome, I will continue to stand alongside these WASPI women until they receive their compensation.

In stark contrast to the continuous disappointment and inaction from the Tory government, the news that Aviemore and Glenmore Community trust is to take over the Glenmore Visitor Centre and car park is hugely welcomed.

I’m sure I share the delight of so many of you with this outcome. Having worked with the trust for a number of years, I’ve witnessed at first hand the dedication, determination and ingenuity of those involved and they deserve enormous credit for getting this over the line.

I am confident that they will take every step to ensure this is a success for everybody across the wider community; a huge well done to all who have been involved over the years.

Lastly, my team and I remain, as ever, here to support you. So please do get in touch with us if there’s anything we can do.

Drew Hendry is MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey.

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