1950s born women in line for state pension compensation

Women could be in line to receive compensation after the Parliamentary Ombudsman ruled the government was slow to tell them about the rising state pension age.

While the Ombudsman has no powers to order compensation, it raises the prospect of 1950s born women affected by the rising state pension age receiving compensation.

One group campaigning for redress is Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI). Chairman Angela Madden commented:

“The findings reinforce what we, unfortunately, knew all along; that the DWP failed to adequately inform 3.8 million 1950s-born women that their state pension age would be increasing.

“These women have been waiting for many years for compensation. We cannot wait any longer. We are calling on the government to agree fair and adequate compensation rather than allow what has become a vicious cycle of government inaction to continue.”

Calls for compensation come from poor government communication ahead of increases to the state pension age for men and women, raised to address rising life expectancy.

For women born in the 1950s, these state pension age increases were accelerated, as the age was equalised for men and women to reach 66.

According to thousands of 1950s born women, they had no idea they would need to wait for years longer before receiving a state pension and have suffered financial and emotional distress.

The Parliamentary Ombudsman’s finding of maladministration by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is based on the delay in providing direct information to 1950s born women.

Some women born in this decade knew that there was a general change to the state pension age, but they were unaware that it would affect them personally.

According to the Ombudsman, the DWP should have written directly to their women more than two years earlier than they did. Some women faced an even longer delay in receiving direct communications about the state pension age change.

Amanda Amroliwala, chief executive of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, said:

“We have found that DWP failed to act quickly enough once it knew a significant proportion of women were not aware of changes to their state pension age.

“It should have written to the women affected at least 28 months earlier than it did. We will now consider the impact of these failings, and what action should be taken to address them.”

The Ombudsman’s ruling was based on six sample cases, but they recommend the DWP apply any subsequent recommendations to all those women affected by the age change.

Campaigners want the state pension age returned to 60 for those women affected, with unpaid pensions refunded. The Ombudsman cannot order the DWP refunds those involved, but it can recommend compensation is paid.

They now plan to move as quickly as possible to make recommendations but cannot recommend any changes to government policy, which could have resulted in much larger compensation payments.

Responding to the findings, a DWP spokesman said:

“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.

“In a move towards gender equality, it was decided more than 25 years ago to make the state pension age the same for men and women.”