The Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) campaign is close to a victory in the House of Commons, according to Scottish National Party (SNP) Westminster leader Ian Blackford.
Speaking at the SNP conference, vocal Waspi supporter Blackford (pictured) called for Labour to work with the SNP to push the campaign forward in parliament.
‘The UK government has to deliver fairness for the Waspi women. We know that a win is now in sight. We have over 30 Tory MPs and eight DUP MPs onside. Parliamentary arithmetic is now on our side to push the government to give people the pension that is rightly theirs.’
Responding to the call, Waspi legal director Susan Beever told New Model Adviser®: ‘Any move to work together to find a cross-party solution is welcome, but what we want to see is a move to forward or amend a bill that offers a concrete and tangible solution for us.’
Beever revealed that Waspi has lodged over 4,000 complaints with the Independent Case Examiner concerning their treatment at the hands of the Department for Work and Pensions.
‘This is still within the civil service, the stage before it reaches the parliamentary ombudsman, but we are frustrated by the time they have taken to escalate and investigate our complaints,' she said.
‘We have been trying to get them to work with our legal team to speed up progress, but they have refused to engage with our legal team at all. We feel we have been treated with contempt by the DWP and the civil service, so any support from politicians is very promising.’
Beever added that Waspi had held some ‘positive meetings’ at the Conservative party conference in Manchester last week, but said: ‘There seems to be a discord between grass roots Conservatives and MPs and those who are in positions of power.’
Rosie Dickson, Waspi coordinator for Glasgow and Lanarkshire, said the issue is a ‘Westminster problem that needs a UK-wide solution’.
She added: ‘You often see the SNP shouted down in parliament over this, and there seems to be an attitude that anything in Scotland is just up to them. Pensions are not a devolved issue, and even if they are using devolved powers to set up additional allowances, we are not receiving benefits, so cannot get those. We are caught between a rock and a hard place.
‘This hopefully represents a solid cast iron commitment for the Westminster government, and if so, that is the best news we have had in a long time. We want a fair transitional arrangement for all 1950s women, and parties need to sit down together now and no longer treat this as a political issue.’