WOMEN who lost out on thousands of pounds amid “catastrophic changes” in the state pension age are lobbying potential election candidates to support their fight for compensation.

Frances Neil, 70, and Deborah Dalton, 66, were “born and bred” in Southend and have taken up the fight on behalf of 100,000 Essex women who missed out on getting their full state pension. 
They work as co-ordinators for the South East Essex branch of Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI).

The 1995 State Pension Act included plans to increase women’s state pension age from 60 to 65. However, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) failed to inform them until 15 years later, forcing 3.8 million women into financial hardship.

“WASPI women”, born between April 1950 and April 1960, are fighting for “fast and fair” compensation, urging the government to repay some of the money lost and to recompense them for the difficulties they faced.

Echo: Frances Neil and Deborah Dalton have been campaigning for 'fast and fair' compensation.Frances Neil and Deborah Dalton have been campaigning for 'fast and fair' compensation. (Image: South Essex Women Against State Pension Inequality)

Deborah, who spent her career working as a pharmacy technician, said: “I wasn’t contracted at work, so I didn’t get a works pension. I lost the equivalent of six years’ money.

“I was supposed to receive my pension from 2017 but didn’t get it until last year. I lost £53,000 overall.”

As many as 3.8 million women were affected nationally. Since the campaign began eight years ago, 270,000 women have died without compensation. One dies every 13 minutes.

Frances, a former headteacher at St Mary’s Primary School, in Prittlewell, said: “It’s had catastrophic consequences. Some women have committed suicide, lost their homes, and had to borrow money off family.

“Even now, there are still women who don’t know this affects them.”

Echo: Lobbying - Frances and Deborah intend to meet with prospective election candidates in Southend.Lobbying - Frances and Deborah intend to meet with prospective election candidates in Southend. (Image: WASPI)

In November, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman conceded the DWP was at fault for the way it communicated the pension age change. Therefore, WASPI believes the women must be compensated via a vote from MPs.

Frances and Deborah intend to meet with candidates from all political parties planning to stand in the next general election, “to ensure they know about the plight of women in their potential constituencies”.

More than 5,000 women in the new Southend East and Rochford constituency and 5,720 in the new Southend West and Leigh constituency have been affected. Frances and Deborah hope to show prospective candidates how many people in their constituency “need their support for compensation”.

Aston Line, Labour councillor for Westborough, supports the campaign.

He said: “I was shocked to learn how many women were affected.

“I realised just how important it was, after the absolutely horrific and unacceptable way it was administered.

“Some women had literally months to reorganise their lives. They were preparing to retire and made life-changing decisions, only to find they would not get their pension for another five or six years. It left so many women destitute.”

Visit the WASPI website for more information.