DETERMINED women have vowed to "keep fighting for fair compensation" after a report found the Government failed to properly inform them of changes to their pensions.

The South East Essex branch of Women Against State Pension Inequality is “disappointed” by the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) refusal to accept the findings of a report published today.

After years of campaigning, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman determined the department “failed to adequately communicate changes to Women’s State Pension age” in November.

It has now recommended the government department pay compensation to 3.8 million women across the UK who were affected, including 100,000 women in Essex.

Frances Neil, 70, is a former headteacher at St Mary’s Primary School and is leading the WASPI “fight” in Southend with co-coordinator Deborah Dalton.

She said: “This has been a hard-fought battle. But we won’t stop. Like Churchill said, ‘this is just the end of the beginning’.

“I’m pleased we’ve been vindicated. We were right to carry on this fight.

Echo: Support - Aston Line, Labour councillor for Westborough, with Deborah and Frances.Support - Aston Line, Labour councillor for Westborough, with Deborah and Frances. (Image: Aston Line)

“We’ve met a lot of people who were put in such terrible predicaments because of this. Some were made homeless or even committed suicide. There have been some awful consequences.”

Frances says she is “disappointed” by the DWP’s refusal, but she is determined the “power is in the hands of Parliament”.

She added: “We’re disappointed, but we’re now looking to Parliament to take care of us and reward us for our contribution to the community throughout our adult years.

“We want WASPI women all over the country to tell their MPs ‘I’m your constituent and I want you to support me’.

“Southend councillors have been supportive of our campaign, along with MP Anna Firth.

“We want MPs across the board to come together to work for a compensation scheme that is right and proper.”

Anna Firth, MP for Southend West, said: “I have raised the plight of all the WASPI women in the House of Commons, and Pensions Minister Mel Stride has offered to meet me to discuss this important matter.

“With the ombudsman having concluded its investigation and the final report issued today, I stand by my call for a Government statement to enable MPs to debate the issue.”

“WASPI women” were born between April 1950 and April 1960, and had their state pension age increased “without being adequately informed”, according to the ombudsman’ report.

In 1995, the State Pension Act introduced 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.

Echo: Campaigning - Southend WASPI women raising awareness at an event at Porter's Civic House.Campaigning - Southend WASPI women raising awareness at an event at Porter's Civic House. (Image: Gaz de Vere)

Ombudsman chief executive Rebecca Hilsenrath, said: “The UK’s national Ombudsman has made a finding of failings by the DWP in this case and has ruled that the women affected are owed compensation. The DWP has clearly indicated that it will refuse to comply. This is unacceptable. The department must do the right thing and it must be held to account for failure to do so.

“Parliament now needs to act swiftly, and make sure a compensation scheme is established. We think this will provide women with the quickest route to remedy.”