More than 300,000 Yorkshire women affected by pension changes would be compensated, Labour promises, as questions raised over cost

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks with a group of WASPI (Women against state pension inequality) supporters during a visit to the Renishaw Miners Welfare, in Renishaw, Sheffield, whilst on the General Election campaign trail. PA Photo. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks with a group of WASPI (Women against state pension inequality) supporters during a visit to the Renishaw Miners Welfare, in Renishaw, Sheffield, whilst on the General Election campaign trail. PA Photo. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
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Jeremy Corbyn has told campaigners near Sheffield how he is "proud" of Labour policy which would compensate more than 300,000 women in Yorkshire and the Humber who lost out on years of state pension payments when their retirement age was raised.

Mr Corbyn, met a group of Waspi women in Renishaw, outside Sheffield, today amid criticism of the policy by the the Director of the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS).

A group of WASPI (Women against state pension inequality) supporters, at the Renishaw Miners Welfare, in Renishaw, Sheffield, ahead of a visit from Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn whilst on the General Election campaign trail. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

A group of WASPI (Women against state pension inequality) supporters, at the Renishaw Miners Welfare, in Renishaw, Sheffield, ahead of a visit from Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn whilst on the General Election campaign trail. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Labour is promising to compensate an estimated 3.7m women - 312,100 in Yorkshire - who believed they lost out financially due to changes in the state pension age, if the party gains power in the General Election.

It follows a lengthy campaign by the so-called Waspi women who said they were given insufficient time to prepare for the changes brought in by the former coalition government.

And the party said the payout could amount to £58bn over five years - with individual payments averaging £15,380 running to a maximum of £31,300.

Mr Corbyn said: "I'm very proud that we've got that clearly in our manifesto and I'll be very proud to go into government and say 'this is the policy on which we've been elected and this is the policy that will now be carried out to right the wrong and the injustice that's been done to all of you'.

"I will do absolutely everything I can to make sure we win the election on December 12 and put that pledge into practice."

Mr Corbyn added: "People understand the injustice that's been done to you and the need for the country as a whole to accept the moral responsibility for putting it right."

But IFS Director Paul Johnson hit out at the policy and said many of the so-called Waspi women are "actually quite well off" and that the Labour Party has shown a "decisive lack of priorities".

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme, Mr Johnson said the policy's estimated cost of £58bn is "a very, very large sum of money indeed".

He added: "I think there are two interesting things about that - one is the sheer scale of it, and of course it immediately breaks the promises they made in their manifesto just last week only to borrow to invest.

"So, they would need even more than their £80bn tax rises if they wanted to cover that.

"The other, I suppose, is just a statement of priorities or decisive lack of priorities, because there's so much money for so many things, but they're not finding money, for example, to reverse the welfare cuts for genuinely poor people of working wage.

"Whilst some of these Waspi women really have suffered hardship as a result of not realising that this pension age increase is happening, although it was announced back in the early 1990s, many of them are actually quite well off."

But Mr Healey said that it is "not a regular spending commitment", which was why it was not fully costed in the party's manifesto.

Mr Healey said: "We're righting this wrong.

"We regard this injustice as breaking that basic contract between working people and their government.

"People who have worked hard all their lives expect and anticipate a level of income to plan their retirement which was snatched for them by the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats in 2011 in that Pensions Act.

"That's why it's a one-off compensation, that's why it is dealt with differently from the departmental year-to-year spending, and that's why we would draw, as any government does for this sort of thing, on a contingency fund.

"And it may well be that the Conservatives have to make this sort of payment if they lose the legal court case in the longer run anyway."

Women expecting to retire at 60 were told they would have to wait longer when changes to the state pension age were accelerated in 2010.

In 2018 the retirement age for women rose to 65, in line with men.

Waspi women - the Women Against State Pension Inequality - argue that they were not given enough time to prepare for the changes.