WHEN I was elected in 2015, the first constituent who came to me for help turned out to be one of many women born in the 1950s who did not know their state pension age had drastically changed.

This issue began with John Major’s Pensions Act of 1995, which raised the state pension age for women from 60 to 65, with the change proposed to be rolled out between 2010 and 2020.

This change came at the expense of 1950s-born women who got no warning that these changes would be coming. Some women reported being notified 14 years after the changes were decided. Some have still not received any formal notification.

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Fast forward to 2011 and David Cameron introduced a new act that both shortened the timetable to increase the pension age for women by two years and also raised the state pension age further for women to 66 by October 2020. This was estimated to save the Tories around £30 billion. As more and more women learned they were affected, organisation allowed these women to band together under the name Women Against State Pension Inequality, ie WASPI.

After numerous parliamentary debates, questions, reports and media coverage, in 2018 WASPI finally secured an investigation into the injustice that had been inflicted on them by the UK Government. After five years, that investigation has now published its findings.

Nearly 10 years on, the WASPI women have not just been waiting for compensation but also for official recognition that they were failed by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The National:

This week saw the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) publish a long overdue report which recorded “a finding of failings by DWP in this case” and also ruled that the women affected are owed compensation.

Everyone and their granny could have told you the women affected should be compensated but it is welcome that the PHSO has at least validated that fact officially. However, the battle is far from over.

The chief executive of the PHSO, Rebecca Hilsenrath, has made clear that the DWP has indicated without a doubt that it will refuse to comply with what the PHSO report suggests.

She said: “This is unacceptable. The department must do the right thing and it must be held to account for failure to do so.”

So, how do we hold the Government to account?

The most effective method is through a General Election where we can have a DWP clear-out. The only other party in the position to form a future UK government is the Labour Party.

After listening to Emily Thornberry’s interview on Sky News where she repeatedly refused to even agree in principle that women affected should be paid compensation, we can only assume that neither a Tory nor Labour government are prepared to pay up.

The reality is that this means more women will die without justice having been done. I looked at a photograph from 2015/16 that I had taken with the Renfrewshire WASPI group and was reminded of those who are no longer with us.

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Women who were forced to sell their belongings and return to low-paid, insecure work in order to try and make ends meet. Women who were worked into an early grave by governments’ refusal to act.

Their passing will not, and must not, be in vain. If the PHSO has no faith in the DWP, then why should the rest of us?

It is upon all parliamentarians, across all political parties to rise to the challenge, and give these women the justice they are so long overdue.