WASPI: justice will have to wait… again

Grenfell, Windrush, subpostmasters, the blood transfusion scandal, Dilnot… the latest delay in implementing the Ombudsman’s report on WASPI women is just one more examplar, writes Tony Watts OBE, of the tactics routinely used by Government to put off rectifying historic wrongs or fulfilling promises made – many involving older people who may never live to see justice as a result.

No sooner had a fire been lit under the DWP to make some sort of decision on compensating WASPI women (for the failures adjudged to have been made in informing women of upcoming changes to their retirement age) when an all-too-familiar tactic was rolled out: procrastination.

We shouldn’t really be surprised. After all, any sort of plan for delivering justice for the victims of the blood transfusion scandal that dates back to the 1970s is still residing in a filing tray somewhere in Whitehall – despite an estimated 30,000 people being infected with HIV and Hepatitis C. One school, Treloar College in Hampshire, has since seen 75 out of the 122 pupils who attended between 1974 and 1987 dying as a direct consequence.

The seventh anniversary of the Grenfell fire is now upon us, with the second report still pending. Over 70 people lost their lives and many more were seriously injured. This means that any potential criminal prosecutions – for manslaughter, fraud or health and safety offences – have also been kicked into the long grass until well after the next General Election.

The Dilnot Report, heralded as a way to correct some of the injustices and uncertainty in the special care funding system, has been dusted off time and again since 2011 along with empty promises to “fix social care”.

Each year sees more victims of the Windrush scandal passing away without justice. For a fine example of rhetoric supplanting action, read the Hansard report of the debate recently held in the Lords, in which Lord Sharpe earnestly responded on behalf of the government thus: “We cannot turn back the clock, but we can strain every sinew to provide the people affected with the help they need and the compensation they deserve, while ensuring that the failings that happened previously can never be repeated.”

Fine words, alas, butter no parsnips.

Age UK’s Caroline Abrahams delineated the latest delay in implementing the WASPI report very neatly: “Now that the Ombudsman has finally concluded that mistakes were made and that the WASPI women were wronged, the Government should get on with swiftly implementing his recommendations and fairly compensating all those impacted who are still alive.

“For some sadly,” she concludes, “it is already too late.”

It would be hard to find any logic in this repeated pattern of delaying tactics other than that this is a conscious policy… a strategy to wait until either the people involved are no longer there to compensate or someone else will be in power to pick up the tab. It is applied too consistently to be otherwise.

Procrastination truly is the thief of justice.

Please share: