Shadow cabinet members will be handed more than £130,000 under Jeremy Corbyn’s £58billion election ‘bribe’ to women pensioners – despite Labour saying the policy is designed to help people ‘forced into penury’.
Valerie Vaz, Diane Abbott and Christina Rees are among eight senior frontbenchers who will received up to £31,000 from the extraordinary bonanza.
Celebrities including actress Emma Thompson, Prince Andrew’s former wife Sarah Ferguson, singer Kate Bush and comedian Dawn French would also be winners, according to the party’s own calculations.
The windfalls emerged amid furious criticism of the policy, with experts complaining that it distributes public funds to people who are already well off.
The massive package has also been condemned as an uncosted panic measure, with Labour unveiling it after the party’s manifesto seemingly feel flat last week, and admitting the money will have to be borrowed.
Jeremy Corbyn pledged at the weekend to reimburse more than three million so-called ‘Waspi’ women born in the 1950s whose retirement age was raised by successive governments.
Valerie Vaz (right) and Diane Abbott (left, today) are among eight senior frontbenchers who will received up to £31,000 from the extraordinary bonanza
Shadow work and pensions secretary Margaret Greenwood would be in line for £6,886
Musical genius Kate Bush, who has an estimated fortune of more than £60million and comic legend Dawn French would receive £10,362 and £15,337 respectively under Labour’s plan
Mr Corbyn speaking in London today. He pledged yesterday to reimburse women who lost out on years of state pension when their retirement age was raised
Yesterday Paul Johnson, the director of the respected Institute for Fiscal Studies, said many of those benefiting are ‘actually quite well off’ and that Labour had shown a ‘decisive lack of priorities’.
The party has provided a calculator which enables people to check how much women could be entitled to in compensation.
Remarkably, it reveals that Theresa May, who was born in October 1956, would be in line for £21,910.
MailOnline has calculated that a large group of shadow cabinet members will also benefit.
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott would be due £21,800, while shadow Commons Leader Valerie Vaz would be entitled to £31,400.
Shadow Welsh secretary Christina Rees would get £27,400, shadow defence secretary Nia Griffith £20,658, and shadow Lords leader Baroness Smith £7,825.
Shadow work and pensions secretary Margaret Greenwood would be in line for £6,886. Barbara Keeley would scoop £9,600, and Lesley Laird £8,764.
According to the Labour figures, actress Emma Thompson – born in April 1959 – would get £6,280 and Prince Andrew’s wife Sarah Ferguson £3,130.
Musical genius Bush, who has an estimated fortune of more than £60million, and comic legend Dawn French, would receive £10,362 and £15,337 respectively. French’s comedy partner Jennifer Saunders would receive £10,995.
The pensions pledge was on top of last week’s Labour manifesto, which unveiled proposals for huge tax rises of £83billion on business and the richest 5 per cent.
It also teed up hundreds of billions of pounds on investment and nationalisations, including offering free broadband to everyone.
But the manifesto made no mention of the Waspi pledge, and Labour has not explained how it would be paid for.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, Mr Johnson said the policy’s estimated cost of £58billion 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 £80billion 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.’
Mr Corbyn met a group of Waspi women in Renishaw, north-east Derbyshire yesterday, and told them he was ‘proud’ of the policy.
‘We owe a moral debt to these women,’ he said. ‘They were misled. They’ve lost a lot of money.
‘The women I’ve just been talking to have lost between £30,000 and £50,000 each because of this.
Former prime minister Theresa May speaking in the Commons last month. A Labour Party calculator revealed that under their proposals even she would get a £21,910 payout
‘They are dedicated people to their communities and their families, and they’re very angry about the way they’ve been treated.’
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell justified the plan over the weekend by saying many of the women were on low pay and had been left ‘in penury’.
‘The scale of this injustice is enormous, this is a discrimination against women in particular, older women, many of whom are on low pay anyway but now I think many of them have suffered so it’s an injustice we have to address,’ he said.
Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said ‘millions of women have been plunged into poverty’.
A Labour spokeswoman said today: ‘Labour has prepared a scheme to compensate the waspi women for a historical wrong that was imposed upon them by the Tories and Liberal Democrats.
‘It’s something they were not able to prepare for and for which they’ve had to suffer serious financial consequences. It is a moral debt we owe.’
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.
Labour has said it would make individual payments averaging £15,380 to the 3.7million women it claims were affected by the changes to the state pension age.