Compensation nears

DWP accused of maldministration over pension change

Waspi in Linlithgow

Women have led a legal campaign

An inquiry has found that government officials delayed informing thousands of women they would be denied access to their state pension because of a change in the age when they qualified.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) has identified a number of “failings” by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) after the state pension age was raised from 60 to 66.

As a result, many women experienced “significant” financial loss and emotional distress partly because they had not prepared for the change.

The outcome of the investigation brings the prospect of compensation closer for thousands of women born in the 1950s who have fought the government over the issue.

Daily Business  pensions report

Daily Business 9 June

The PHSO stated that DWP had failed to take adequate account of the need for targeted and individually tailored information.

It also found that DWP failed to make a “reasonable decision” about next steps in August 2005 and failed to use feedback to improve service design and delivery, highlighting this as “maladministration”.

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Indeed, the ombudsman said the DWP should have written to affected to women to tell them of the changes by, at the latest, December 2006. However, it did not communicate for another 28 months.

The PHSO also argued that DWP did not act promptly enough on its November 2006 proposal to write directly to affected women, and that it failed to give due weight to how much time had already been lost since the 1995 pensions Act, again identifying this as maladministration.

Furthermore, whilst the PHSO agreed with the recent court judgments, which ruled that there was no legal duty to communicate the changes, it clarified that this does not mean that there was no requirement for DWP to adequately communicate the changes “as a matter of good administration”.

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