An ombudsman has ruled that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) was too slow to tell thousands of women that they would be affected by the rising pension age.
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) said the department failed to respond fast enough once it knew a significant proportion of women were oblivious of the changes.
The 1995 Pensions Act equalised the state pension age for men and women, and the ombudsman said it had received a significant number of complaints about the way this was communicated by the DWP.
It said that numerous women said that they were not aware of the changes, and encountered significant monetary loss and emotional suffering.
The PHSO said that from 2005 onwards, there were failings in the action taken by the DWP to communicate the state pension age.
The ombudsman said its investigation would go on to examine the impact those failings had and make recommendations to put things right for any associated injustice.
This year, thousands of women have been due a windfall after administration errors dating back 30 years saw their state pensions substantially underpaid.
Amanda Amroliwala, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman CEO, said that after a thorough investigation, they discovered that the DWP failed to respond fast enough once they knew that a significant proportion of women were not aware of changes to their state pension age and that these women should have been written to at least 28 months earlier than they were.
And that they would now examine the impact of those failings, and what action should be taken to address them.
Angela Madden, who chairs the WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) campaign, told the BBC that the findings strengthened what they, sadly, knew all along. That the DWP failed to adequately inform 3.8 million 1950s born women that their state pension age would be increasing.
She said that these women have been waiting for countless years for compensation and they couldn’t wait any longer and that they were calling on the government to agree to fair and adequate compensation rather than allow what has become a vicious cycle of government inaction to continue.
The PHSO provides a complaint handling service for issues about the NHS in England and UK Government agencies.
A DWP spokesperson said that 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.
It’s a great job by everyone involved but I bet our repugnant government will still fail to pay these women because they don’t want to pay up and they will probably use every delay tactic to avoid doing so, or they will try to delay until every one of those women has died.
Many women didn’t get a letter from the DWP about the rise in their state pension age, and when they did receive, or if they did get a letter about their pension, which was due to start in July 2020, having waited an additional 5 years and 10 months, and having paid in 48 years of National Insurance, they phoned the DWP and were told there was an error on the system whereby they’d somehow been left off the mailing list. Most of these women were told by word of mouth, but not by the DWP!
This was a contractual change to women’s pension arrangements and each woman should have been sent a statement and letter of notification of changes to the terms and conditions.