Campaigners welcome watchdog's verdict in state pension age row

Women’s pension campaigners in north Northumberland are calling on the Government to urgently pay compensation after an official watchdog found the Department of Work and Pensions was guilty of maladministration in how it communicated changes to the state pension age.

Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 10:40 am
Members of the Berwick-upon-Tweed WASPI group pictured in 2017.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) said Government officials failed to act quickly enough once it knew a significant proportion of women were unaware of the changes in raising the state pension age in phases to 65 and 66.

Many women said they were not aware of the changes and experienced significant financial loss and emotional distress, it said.

The Ombudsman found that the DWP was guilty of maladministration from 2004 onwards when it failed to contact 1950s born women in person to inform them of the changes to their state pension age.

It said: “The Department for Work and Pensions did not provide women with accurate, adequate and timely information about the changes to their state pension age and that was maladministration.”

It has been hailed as vindication by Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI), which has campaigned for fair transitional pension arrangements and compensation for all women affected. Local groups across the country, including Berwick-upon-Tweed WASPI, have been working to raise awareness of the situation.

Susan Beevers, co-ordinator of Berwick-upon-Tweed WASPI said: “These provisional findings reinforce what we, unfortunately, knew all along; that the DWP failed to adequately inform 3.8million 1950s born women that their state pension age would be increasing.

“We have been tirelessly campaigning on this issue since 2015 and have been repeatedly ignored and dismissed by the Government. The Government can no longer cover up its failings.

“It’s time, once and for all, to resolve this issue.”

She added that WASPI and all of the local groups now want the Government to urgently compensate all women affected rather than making them wait longer while the PHSO completes further rounds of its investigation.

If it is found maladministration led to an injustice that has not been remedied, the PHSO will proceed to the final stage of investigation and consider making recommendations for remedy.

A series of court decisions found in favour of the Government in terms of changing the pension age itself and a DWP spokesperson said its actions had been supported by the High Court and Court of Appeal.