State pension: Women secure major win as DWP notice on age change deemed ‘inadequate’

WASPI: ‘We have been treated unjustly’ says director

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State Pension age was changed from 60 to 65 for women as a result of two Pension Acts of 1995 and 2011. This was a change which impacted women born from 1950 onwards, meaning they have to wait longer for their state pension sum. Certain women asserted they were not give ample notice that these changes were set to take place.

While others argued they had not received any communications from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on the matter.

A number of people took their complaints to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO), which then launched a review into the situation.

And its findings, as conducted in private, have now been released to the public.

The PHSO said it has found “failings” in the way the DWP communicated changes to women’s state pension age.

From 2005 onwards, it said, the actions from the DWP were not considered up to scratch.

The investigative report has now been laid before Parliament for further analysis.

It described how the DWP “failed to make reasonable decisions” based on the information available to it.

It also found the Department did not communicate with the women affected with enough urgency.

This is likely to be a significant victory for 1950s women who have campaigned about the state pension age change.

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Amanda Amroliwala, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, commented on the matter.

She said: “After a detailed investigation, we have found that DWP failed to act quickly enough once it knew a significant proportion of women were not aware of changes to their State Pension age.

“It should have written to the women affected at least 28 months earlier than it did. We will now consider the impact of these failings, and what action should be taken to address them.”

Two major campaign groups have come to the fore in recent years, highlighting the matter.

WASPI, or Women Against State Pension Inequality, was founded in 2015 and states it fights for “justice for all women born in the 1950s affected by changes to the state pension age”.

The campaign group is not against the idea of state pension age equalisation, but does not affect the way the changes to the state pension age were implemented.

Backto60, whose website is currently in hibernation, stated “1950s women are being cheated out of expected pension entitlement”.

It has previously argued for the female state pension age to be reverted back to its former age of 60.

The PHSO is now set to progress the matter further, with its website stating the next step is considering whether maladministration led to “injustice” for the complainant.

If it then finds there was an injustice, which is not guaranteed, then it will proceed to the third stage and make recommendations to “put things right”.

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Recommendations cannot involve changing the state pension age, or reinstating a ‘lost’ state pension, but the Ombudsman website states recommendations could mean compensation is paid. 

Also commenting on the matter was Tom Selby, senior analyst at AJ Bell, who said: “The WASPI nest will undoubtedly be poked once again by this Ombudsman ruling. What we still don’t know is what, if any, compensation will be provided to women as a result of this finding.

“The Ombudsman now plans to look at the impact this injustice had, which will undoubtedly lead to more pressure for a resolution.

“Given the parlous state of UK finances, calls in some quarters to compensate women affected in full – which could amount to six years of state pension payments – are likely to fall on deaf ears.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson told “Both the High Court and Court of Appeal have supported the actions of the DWP, under successive governments dating back to 1995, and the Supreme Court refused the claimants permission to appeal. 

“In a move towards gender equality, it was decided more than 25 years ago to make the State Pension age the same for men and women.”

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