Women born in the 1950s, who are involved in a long-running dispute over pension payments, have received a boost to their campaign.
The group, Women Against State Pension Inequality, known as WASPIs, have renewed calls for compensation after the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) accused the Government of ‘maladministration’ over communicating the state pension age changes.
It follows an ongoing campaign led by two groups, the WASPIs and BackTo60. They believe that women who were born in the 1950s were denied their pension when the 1995 Pensions Act changed the law to introduce the changes to the state pension age from 60 to 65, and then 66, in line with men.
They say the findings vindicate the years of campaigning and the commitment of women who have made individual complaints to the PHSO.
In a report, the influential Ombudsman condemned the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for not providing ‘accurate, adequate and timely’ information about the hike in women’s state pension age. It added that it had received a significant number of complaints about the way this was communicated by DWP.
It notes that many women said that they were not aware of the changes, and experienced significant financial loss and emotional distress as a result. The investigation concludes that from 2005 onwards, there were failings in the action taken by DWP to communicate the state pension age.
Amanda Amroliwala, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman chief executive, said: “After a detailed investigation, 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.”
The group says the latest findings reinforce what WASPI, which represents many of the 3.8 million affected, has been calling for since the campaign was founded in 2015.
Angela Madden, who chairs the WASPI campaign, said: “These women have been waiting for many years for compensation. We cannot wait any longer. We are calling on the Government to agree to fair and adequate compensation rather than allow what has become a vicious cycle of Government inaction to continue.”
The WASPI campaigners will now take time to consider the contents with their legal advisers and decide the best way forward for the campaign.
Reacting to the PHSO’s announcement, a DWP spokesperson 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.
The report has been laid before Parliament, and the Ombudsman is considering the impact of the failings made by the Government and the action that should be taken to address them.
The Ombudsman has no power to do so, but it can recommend compensation is paid to those affected by the DWP’s maladministration.