The Spring Budget failed women. It failed young women, women in work, and women seeking State Pension payments.Kate Osborne
By Kate Osborne MP
During the Budget debate on Gender Equality in Parliament a few weeks ago I asked the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen, about the injustice facing the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaign. The Minister’s response just goes to prove why the WASPI cause is so urgent, and the lengths to which the Tory government will go to neglect women’s issues.
I called for the government to put forward a compensation package for women born in the 1950s who were affected by the changes to their State Pension age.
The Minister responded “Well I don’t accept that. I think the WASPI issue has been covered many times by Ministers from the Department of Work and Pensions and elsewhere” and made reference to the government’s childcare plan, one that is inadequate and ignorant.
In July 2021, the PHSO ruled that the DWP had failed to communicate, with enough urgency, the changes in retirement age rising from 60 to 65 for women, finding it guilty of maladministration. The Minister conveniently left that part out.
The Spring Budget failed women. It failed young women, women in work, and women seeking State Pension payments. Women are more likely to rely on and work in public services, and this Budget makes their lives and prospects worse, not better. Most of the UK’s poorest pensioners are single women, and the gender pensions gap needs to be addressed.
For the Minister to blow this off and argue that these issues have already been dealt with is appalling.
Did he think the government was dealing with it when they introduced their new childcare plan that piles additional pressure onto overworked and underpaid staff, in a field dominated by women?
Did he think the government was dealing with it when they introduced new social security policies that would disproportionately affect disabled women, one of the hardest hit groups by austerity policies in the 2010s?
Among full-time employees the gender pay gap in April 2022 was 8.3%, up from 7.7% the previous year. There is a blatantly obvious gender health gap, with women receiving, on average, significantly poorer healthcare than men. And women are nearly twice as likely as men to suffer from mental illness, furthermore nearly 80% of women with autism are misdiagnosed.
Ignoring the WASPI campaign is not a one-off. The appalling response to my question is just another in the long line of blatant ignorance the Tory government has shown towards women’s issues. I will never stop calling this injustice out.
Around 11,000 of the women affected by state pension changes were from the South Tyneside area, with a total of 65,000 in the North East. Both Gateshead and South Tyneside Councils, within the Jarrow constituency, have supported the WASPI campaign, with the latter recently unanimously passing a motion calling on the Government to produce an immediate compensation package.
The campaign continues to garner public support across the country, and yet the Government makes a mockery of how vitally important this issue is. Many women affected by the changes experienced significant and emotional distress as a result, and to ignore this is a hideous demonstration of the many ways in which the Tory Government continues to belittle and fail women across the UK.
An estimated 3.8million women across the UK missed out on vital State Pension payments, and I will not let this injustice slip through the cracks.
The WASPI campaign achieved a fantastic victory recently, winning an out of court agreement and forcing the government watchdog to unequivocally accept that the findings in the Stage 2 report were legally flawed and that the report must be quashed and rewritten.
I’ve signed the latest EDM condemning the direct discrimination and maladministration that women born in the 1950’s have faced.
I will never stop raising this issue in the commons. I will never stop speaking on behalf of women failed by the government. The fight for justice for the WASPIs must continue until we have won.