‘WHEN I started work at 16 I expected my pension when I was 60,” Tricia Marwick wrote on Twitter/X at the weekend.

“I paid for it every pay day. Never happened. It was delayed and delayed again. V50s women are owed our own money. Don’t make excuses. Politics is about priorities. Give us what we are owed and what we paid for.”

Marwick, the former presiding officer of the Scottish Parliament, was sharing a clip of Labur’ Anneliese Dodds refusing to confirm to the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg that a Labour government would give compensation to the WASPI women.

“Respect” was all she could pledge, along with the learning of lessons from the parliamentary ombudsman’s conclusion that the DWP failed to properly communicate to women about changes to the state pension age.

No wonder Marwick was unimpressed. Indeed, she’d be entitled to feel blindsided by this given Labour’s pledges ahead of the last election that WASPI women would be compensated.

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Her sentiment echoes that expressed in 2019 by Dodds’s colleague Angela Rayner, who declared: “The government failed the women who were born in the 1950s. They stole their pension – that contract, that agreement that they thought they had – and then accelerated it so that those women didn’t have the chance to prepare for that.”

There are two distinct issues here – the equalising of the state pension age and the communication of changes – and the comments by Rayner then and Marwick now serve to muddle the two.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman has not concluded that raising the state pension age for women from 60 to 65 – bringing it into line with the age for men – was wrong, or even that it was done too quickly. These were decisions made by the UK Parliament that had the effect of correcting a longstanding inequality.

WASPI stands for Women Against State Pension Inequality, which suggests the campaigners have no problem with the principle of the pension age for men and women being equalised.

The National:

Of course, an alternative method of this would have been to reduce the state pension age for men to 60, but a country with a rapidly ageing population would never have seriously considered that move.

Both Marwick and Rayner imply that because many WASPI women were unaware their state pension age was changing, the difference between the total sum they expected to receive and what they actually received was “stolen” from them.

“I expected”, said Marwick, and “I paid for it every pay day”. But as a politician she must have understood only too well that the National Insurance contributions she paid every month were not, in fact, paying for her own state pension, but rather for the pensions of other, older people.

There was no actual contract. As Rayner said, there was only an “agreement that they thought they had”. This is not to say that no WASPI women lost out due to the DWP’s failure to act promptly when it realised that a large proportion of women were unaware of the changes that would affect them.

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The ombudsman is clear that some women lost “opportunities to make informed decisions about some things and to do some things differently, and diminished their sense of personal autonomy and financial control.” How to go about putting a price on this?

The recommended level of compensation is £1000-£2950 per affected woman – unsurprisingly, many campaigners are dismayed. Those who’ve been convinced they were robbed believe they’re due years worth of backdated pension payments or hypothetical lost earnings, despite the ombudsman making clear the DWP’s failings did not result in “direct financial loss”.

Responding to expressions of disbelief from some quarters that WASPI women truly remained ignorant of changes to their state pension age, Guardian journalist Gaby Hinsliff pondered on social media: How many of these same people were up to speed regarding their own pension forecast?

Therein perhaps lies the source of the intergenerational skirmishes we’ve seen online since the ombudsman published its report.

Of course younger people do not know at what age they will be eligible for a state pension. Many of us are dubious about whether such a thing will even still exist.

We, too, have been paying in every pay day, and some may still believe that money is safely tucked away in a special pot. But it isn’t. If we get no state pension whatsoever, we too may feel we have been robbed. The men who previously had to wait five years longer for their pensions doubtless felt it too – especially those with the most physically demanding jobs.

The likes of Angela Rayner must take some responsibility for convincing so many women that they have indeed been victims of a direct theft, for which a Labour government will soon be along to compensate them. Those women have every right to feel betrayed, but they should never have been sold that lie to begin with.