WASPI update as state pension age changes investigation moves into next stage
Liz Truss grilled by WASPI woman on offering pension help
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The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman released the first findings of its ongoing investigation into the state pension changes, which is moving into its second stage. Specifically, it is examining the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) to increase the state pension age for women from 60 to 65, with the age later rising to 66 for both men and women. This investigation comes amid the WASPI (Women Against State Pension Inequality) campaign who have long held that women have not received the full pension they should be entitled to.
After the 1995 Pensions Act and following legislation, the state pension age for women born on or after April 6, 1950 rose from 60 to 65. The state pension age later increased to 66 for men and women.
WASPI campaigners believe this pension change was not sufficiently explained to many women who subsequently suffered financially.
The Government department was found to have “failed to make a reasonable decision about targeting information to the women affected by these changes”.
The following year, the DWP made the proposal to write to women directly about the upcoming changes to the state pension age.
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However, the Ombudsman determined that the department “failed to act promptly” with this decision.
As part of its investigation, the Ombudsman shared what many complaints from WASPI women have highlighted.
Earlier this week, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman said: “Women complained to us that DWP did not adequately communicate these changes.
“They say they have experienced financial loss and a negative impact on their health, emotional well-being or home life as a result.
“They also complained that they suffered financial loss due to DWP inadequately communicating how many National Insurance qualifying years they need for a full state pension.
“They told us that DWP’s and the Independent Case Examiner’s (ICE) handling of their complaints about these issues had a negative effect on their emotional well-being.”
The investigation body confirmed it was in receipt of a “significant number” of complaints similar to the issues raised by the WASPI campaign since it first proposed to investigate.
While it is reviewing these complaints, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman noted it was currently not accepting any new complaints.
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The body added: “We are going to begin considering what action we think DWP should take to remedy the apparent injustice.
“We will share our provisional views about remedy once we have considered any further evidence we receive about our provisional views for stage two.
“We will then go on to publish our findings about the issues we are considering at stage two and remedy at the same time. This adjustment will minimise complainants’ wait for our findings about remedy once we have considered any further evidence we receive.”
A spokesperson for the WASPI campaign said: “WASPI welcomes the Ombudsman’s decision to speed up the investigation process by combining the publication of the findings about the issues from Stage II and any recommended remedy at the same time.
“One WASPI woman is dying every 14 minutes waiting for compensation.”
A DWP spokesperson said: “The Government decided over 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 DWP, under successive governments dating back to 1995, and the Supreme Court refused the claimants permission to appeal.”
The Government also noted that the Ombudsman has not published its final report or made any recommendations, emphasising that assertions that have been recommended are “incorrect”.
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