Ombudsman leak raises hope for pensions women
Women Against State Pension Injustice campaigning in Linlithgow during 2019 general election campaign (pic: Terry Murden)
Women who claim they have been unfairly affected by changes to the state pension age believe they may be close to receiving some form of compensation.
The leak of provisional conclusions from the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) inquiry suggests there was maladministration in the way changes to the law were communicated by the Department for Work and Pensions.
As many as four million women born in the 1950s may have been denied income because of the move to equalise the state pension age with men.
Complaints from at least one campaign group have focused a lack of communication from government that would have allowed them to prepare for the changes.
A confidential letter from the Ombudsman, Sir Robert Behrens, is said to identify maladministration as a cause of a delay in the DWP writing directly to women about the changes in the law.
These findings are thought to relate only to a period between 2005 and 2007, not from 1995, when the state pension age began to increase.
According to the leak, the Government provided “accurate information” about the changes between 1995 and 2004 but failed in its communication thereafter.
The PHSO cannot recommend that women are reimbursed for the years of pension they missed but it can recommend compensation if it finds “an injustice was suffered as result of maladministration”.
The PHSO is now said to be looking at whether women faced an injustice.
The DWP said: “We do not comment on leaks or live Ombudsman investigations.
“The Government decided 25 years ago that it was going to make the State Pension age the same for men and women as a long-overdue move towards gender equality.
“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 recently refused the claimants’ permission to appeal.”