Tens of thousands of women in Norfolk and Suffolk who suffered because of changes to the state pension age should be compensated, a watchdog has said.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) failed to adequately communicate changes to women's state pension age, and those affected are owed compensation, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) said.

After the publication of a damning report, the ombudsman asked Parliament to intervene and "act swiftly" to make sure a compensation scheme is established, with the DWP having failed to acknowledged its failings or put things right.

Diss Mercury: Debbie de SponDebbie de Spon (Image: Debbie de Spon)

One of those affected is Debbie de Spon, from Ashwellthorpe. She is co-ordinator of the Norfolk branch of WASPI – Women Against State Pension Inequality.

She said: "It is a significant step forward. We have been waiting a long time to get to this point.

"We are taking time to absorb what the ombudsman's report will mean, but we are hoping it will be taken to Parliament as soon as possible."

Diss Mercury: Waveney MP Peter AldousWaveney MP Peter Aldous (Image: Archant © 2012)

Waveney MP Peter Aldous, vice-chairman of the State Pension Inequality for Women All-Party Parliamentary Group, said Parliament, which is close to recess, should meet to agree compensation - of at least £10,000 for each woman affected.

The Conservative MP said: “These millions of women worked, cared for families, and supported communities all their lives. They deserve the dignity of fast compensation."

Diss Mercury: WASPI women have protested for years about the impact of the pension changes on themWASPI women have protested for years about the impact of the pension changes on them (Image: Newsquest)

PHSO chief executive Rebecca Hilsenrath called for Parliament to intervene and hold the DWP to account.

She said: "Parliament now needs to act swiftly, and make sure a compensation scheme is established. We think this will provide women with the quickest route to remedy."

The 1995 Pensions Act and subsequent legislation raised the state pension age for women born on or after April 6, 1950.

The ombudsman investigated complaints that, since 1995, DWP has failed to provide accurate, adequate and timely information about areas of state pension reform.

The changes meant some women lost opportunities to make informed decisions about their finances.

Norfolk County Council last year unanimously agreed to back the WASPI compensation campaign.

Diss Mercury: Kay Mason Billig, leader of Norfolk County CouncilKay Mason Billig, leader of Norfolk County Council (Image: Norfolk County Council)

Kay Mason Billig, the council's Conservative leader, said: "I welcome this news for the WASPI women, following their hard-fought campaign for justice.

"These pension changes have affected 52,000 women in Norfolk and last year, we raised the issue with the prime minister, following the unanimous backing of all county councillors."