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Waspi women say state pension triple lock promise is ‘better than nothing’, but doesn’t go far enough

Women affected by the state pension age changes continue to hope for compensation to ease their financial struggles, despite expectations of a 7 to 8 per cent income boost next year.

Though they welcomed reports that the triple lock policy on state pensions, which guarantees an increase every year, is secure, the women said it was still difficult to lead a comfortable life in the cost of living crisis.

Some women born in the 50s have been left in financial turmoil over changes to the state pension age, which they claim they had very little notice of or time to prepare for. The Government increased the retirement age for women from 60 to 65, in line with men, before raising it to 66 for both sexes. It will increase to 67 this decade.

The women, often referred to as Waspi women (Women Against State Pension Inequality), claim the lack of communication meant they could not prepare for so many extra years without their pension. Some left work early thinking they would get their pension at 60.

This issue is currently being investigated by the Government watchdog, which could recommend some level of compensation.

As the women wait for that decision, i reports that pensioners are set to get a 7 per cent to 8 per cent rise under the triple lock policy, which boosts the state pension every year by the highest of earnings, the previous September’s inflation figure or 2.5 per cent.

September’s inflation could be around 6.9 per cent, which means pensioners get an extra £700 a year. But a surprise increase in wage growth – currently 8.2 per cent – could lead to an even bigger increase for pensioners if sustained in the next set of data.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said the Government is committed to the triple lock policy.

“While the triple lock is great, the state pension is very low. It’s not a lot on not a lot,” said 69-year-old Frances Neil, who also receives her teacher’s pension.

“Every penny counts when you have these cost of living increases.

“I’ve met people living on one meal a day or who go to bed at 7pm to save electricity. Some women lost everything because they thought they’d retire at 60.”

Ms Neil retired in November 2018 at 62, believing she would get the state pension at 63. However, she had to wait until she was 65: “Nobody told me it had changed.”

Sandra Stay-Sothcott, who says she found out about the pension changes too late, said a 7 per cent triple lock rise is not enough to give pensioners like her a comfortable lifestyle – but it will help.

“I can’t look a gift horse in the mouth, it’s better than nothing,” she said, adding she was still “holding out” for compensation following the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman review (PHSO).

“I won’t lie it’s hard,” she said of her financial situation. “You dread the winter, with utility bills… Frightened to put the heating on at our age, we should be having a comfortable life. It’s just unfair.”

“It’s hard when you’re a widow and you’re on your own… they don’t look after us enough.”

In a difficult economic landscape with stubbornly high inflation, the triple lock was not necessarily a certainty. Krishna James, who is 68 and lives in London, said losing it would make life far harder for women of her generation. “The prices are unbelievably high and we have already cut down. If the triple lock goes, we will suffer.”

The PHSO said its “duty is to provide the right outcome for all involved and make sure justice is achieved”.

The DWP said the decision to equalise the state pension age for men and woman was made 25 years ago.

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