The WASPI Women Movement

Cara Bradley

Written by

Cara Bradley

5 min read

Updated: 25/06/2024

The WASPI movement has been active in the media recently which may have led you to wonder, who exactly are the WASPIs and does their campaign affect you?

What does WASPI stand for?

WASPI stands for Women Against State Pension Inequality.

The WASPI Women Timeline

1948: The modern state pension was introduced, meaning that women were eligible to receive their State Pension at the age of 60 and men when they reached 65, providing they had made enough National Insurance contributions.

1990: Rules were altered to grant women equal workplace pension benefits with men. Previous to this, there were restrictions on part-time and temporary employees, which mainly affected women workers.

1995: In line with the men’s age, the State Pension Act increased the age of eligibility to 65 for women. These changes were set to be implemented between 2010 and 2020.

2010: The gradual age increase roll-out was stopped when the 2011 Pensions Act came into force and sped up the process, bringing the changes forward to 2018.

What went wrong?

  • The changes applied in 1995 have meant that many women born between April 6, 1950, and April 5, 1960, have experienced financial hardship.
  • It’s been reported that letters outlining the changes set out as a result of the State Pension Act were not sent to the affected women until 14 years after the decision was made.
  • This meant that those impacted were not given an adequate amount of time to financially plan for their retirement. Those who had already retired were faced with the challenge of having to wait longer to receive their State Pension, meaning that they had to survive on less money than they had anticipated. Others were suddenly forced to potentially navigate a longer working period.
  • Worryingly, many women claim to have never received a letter at all.
    The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) states that letters were sent between October 2012 and November 2013, although it does not have a record of who were sent these letters and admits that some letters could have possibly been lost in the post.
  • The 2011 updates are reported to have negatively hit around 2.6 million women.
  • Some 300,000 women born between December 1953 and October 1954 were approaching their State Pension age when they were informed of the changes, resulting in them having to wait an extra 18 months to claim their pension.

The key issues in a nutshell

Women affected felt that the insufficient communication had resulted in the following:

  • Financial loss;
  • Missed opportunities to make informed decisions and either amend or make new plans based upon the changes; and
  • Emotional distress.

In addition to this, WASPI have also received stories from affected women which detail their individual struggles.

  • A number of women under the age of 65 who have already retired are living off their savings until they are able to claim their State Pension.
  • Single, divorced, and widowed women have been left without an income.
  • Those who are married have reported a loss of independence as they rely on financial support from their husband or partner.
  • Many women having to accept zero-hour employment contracts with a lack of security, and roles that are unsuitable for their health.
  • Retirement plans have been put on hold, causing devastation and distress.

What do WASPI want?

We took the following statement from the WASPI website:

‘WASPI calls on the Government to agree fair and fast compensation for all women affected by the lack of notice regarding the State Pension age increases (1995 and 2011 Pensions Acts) to reflect their financial losses, the sustained damage to their mental health and well-being, and the additional impacts.
‘We also call for the Government to act on the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) findings now to prevent any longer-term damage to WASPI women.’

What did the PHSO report reveal?

Amongst many other shocking statistics, the PHSO report revealed the following:

  • There were significant failings in the DWP’s communication regarding the State Pension age changes for women.
  • In 2004, research suggested that the new State Pension age information was not being distributed amongst the people it affected. At the time, the DWP acknowledged that they could do more, but did not act on this.
  • A 2006 survey uncovered that many women still believed that they could access their State Pension at 60 years old.
  • Complaints were not adequately investigated or responded to by the DWP.
  • Women affected by the initial lack of communication and appropriate complaint handling experienced stress, anxiety, confusion, and a negative impact on their sense of personal autonomy and financial control.

What’s happening now?

The PHSO concluded that they feel the DWP should provide compensation to those affected. The amount that has been recommended is between £1,000 and £2,950 per person, although the WASPI women have campaigned for £10,000 per person.
The DWP has indicated that it does not agree with the issuing of compensation, and has listed numerous reasons as to why, including associated costs and the time the operation would take.

As of 2024, the situation is still ongoing, and the DWP are considering the action recommended by the PHSO.
You can keep up to date with the latest developments on the WASPI website.

What should I do if I think I’m due compensation?

If compensation is agreed, those affected are expected to be contacted accordingly.


If you would like to find out more or join WASPI, you can locate your nearest group here.
Becoming a member of the WASPI campaign costs £25 a year or £15 for those in receipt of benefits.*

Check your State Pension age

You can check your State Pension age and get an idea of how much money you could get on the website.

Final words

If you have been impacted by the State Pension age changes, we hope that you get the answers and outcome that you deserve.
From holidays to treasured quality time with loved ones, we hope that your retirement is filled with much happiness.

*Membership prices correct as of May 10, 2024.