SCOTTISH Labour have been overruled by the UK leadership after pledging to stand up for women financially hit by sudden increases to the state pension age, The National can reveal.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) concluded in a report published this week that women born in the 1950s affected by state pension changes that were not communicated adequately should receive an apology and payouts of up to £2950.

Scottish Labour politicians have regularly been pictured with campaigners from Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) for years, and deputy leader Jackie Baillie was stood with activists in West Dunbartonshire just a fortnight ago.

But the UK Labour Party have instructed their counterparts north of the Border not to commit to any sort of compensation scheme and simply suggest they will “consider the report”.

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Just last year, Scottish Labour chief Anas Sarwar joined women at Paisley's Sma Shot Parade, walking behind their WASPI banner. The Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Dunbartonshire and Renfrewshire WASPI group thanked him for his support for their campaign, which at the time specifically called for recommendations of compensation for the women affected.

Sarwar also shared a page on his website in 2017 arguing for justice for WASPI women. That post has now been removed.

In 2017 he called on the SNP to work across parties to introduce a Scottish Pension Credit to help the women get "justice", criticising the Scottish Government for making the WASPI issue into a "constitutional fight".

“We need urgent action to end the hardship faced by women who have worked all their lives and find that they cannot retire as planned," he said.

But in messages seen by The National, Scottish Labour have forwarded UK Labour lines to MSPs and staff which say it is a “serious report that requires serious consideration”.

Instead of pledging any sort of compensation scheme, Scottish Labour have been told the line to go with is a promise to guarantee “information about any changes to the state pension age are provided in a timely and targeted way and tailored to individual needs”.

They have also been instructed to not make “any unfunded spending commitments we cannot keep” if asked about compensation.

This falls far short of a commitment made in 2019 by Labour under Jeremy Corbyn for a £58 billion compensation package to settle a "historical debt of honour" in the world of then-shadow chancellor John McDonnell.

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SNP MP Ronnie Cowan called on Scottish Labour to "grow a backbone" as he pledged to push for an apology and compensation from the UK Government.

He said: "Time and time again Scottish Labour fold under orders from their Westminster bosses - it is long past time they grew a backbone.

"The SNP has been supporting WASPI campaigners for years - and we won't stop until the UK government apologises and pays out the compensation these women deserve. 

"This is why it is vital that at the Westminster election, people vote SNP to elect a strong team of SNP MPs who will stand up for Scotland and campaign for those who deserve justice."

The full cost of the package recommended in the report could be anywhere between £3.5bn and £10.5bn, but the Department for Work and Pensions is not willing to commit to a scheme.

The PHSO has asked parliament to intervene and “act swiftly” to make sure one is established, but it would seem the Labour leadership are not for getting “in front” of the Government.

In an interview on Friday, Labour frontbencher Emily Thornberry refused to commit to paying WASPI women any compensation if her party is to form a government.

During the exchange on BBC Breakfast, she complained about being asked questions about what Labour would do about various scandals if they were at the helm.

Asked whether her party would pay up for WASPI women, she said: “I just think that the way to do this is not for the Labour Party to get in front of the Government here.

“I think we have to hold the Government to account and make sure the Government does its job properly which is that it responds to this report first.

“It isn’t just about this, because if they get away with this, then it will be what’s Labour going to do about Horizon, what’s Labour going to do about the postmasters, what’s Labour going to do about contaminated blood...”

After attempting to divert attention towards Rishi Sunak, she insisted she couldn’t remember the party proposing a fully costed compensation scheme.

She said: “I don’t remember any figures.”

Asked if it was not unreasonable for women to expect her to look back at her notes, she said: “I haven’t looked at notes I may or may not have made six years ago.”

Scottish Labour have been approached by The National for comment.