WASPI women receive vital update in state pension age fight

WASPI woman says she ‘doesn’t know which way to turn’

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It is thought some 3.8million women have been affected by the decision to raise state pension age from 60, to its present level of 66 – in a process of age equalisation. Some women have asserted they were not provided with ample notice and have been affected financially and socially as a result.

Campaign groups such as Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) have sought to raise awareness on the matter.

A number of complainants took the matter to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) asking for the way the DWP communicated these changes to women to be investigated.

While a full report will come once the whole investigation has been completed, the matter has progressed a step further.

Part two of the investigation is now complete, and the PHSO has delivered its findings.

It asserts there was “maladministration” in the DWP’s communication about National Insurance qualifying years.

The Ombudsman also found there was maladministration in the Department’s complaint handling.

However, it stated the maladministration in the DWP’s communication about state pension age and about National Insurance qualifying years, and its complaint handling, did not lead to all the injustices claimed.

It went on to state there was “no maladministration” when it comes to the Independent Case Examiner’s complaint handling.

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Women who complained to the PHSO also stated they have suffered financial loss “due to the DWP inadequately communicating how many National Insurance qualifying years they need for a state pension”.

The PHSO stated they had received a significant number of similar complaints since they first proposed to investigate. It is, however, not accepting any new complaints about these issues at present.

Stage one of the PHSO investigation said between 1995 and 2004 the DWP’s communication of changes “reflected the standards we would expect it to meet”.

However, in 2005, the Ombudsman stated the Department failed to make a reasonable decision about targeting information to those affected by the changes – which it described as maladministration.

The year after, the Department proposed writing to women individually about the matter but it was found they did not “act promptly” – also found to be maladministration.

It is now down to the Ombudsman to move to the next step of the investigation and it is currently considering the matter.

The PHSO will look at what action it believes the DWP should take “to remedy the injustice found” in the third and final stage of the investigation.

When maladministration is found, the Ombudsman makes recommendations which may include a suggestion that compensation is paid.

There is no set amount, and instead the Severity of Injustice scale will be consulted.

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There are six levels, and each level includes a range of amounts which would usually be recommended.

For example a Level 3 injustice would be £500 to £950, whereas a Level 6 injustice could offer £10,000 or more.

A DWP spokesperson recently told Express.co.uk: “We support millions of people every year and our priority is ensuring they get the help and support to which they are entitled. We’re also protecting millions of the most vulnerable households with at least £1,200 in direct payments this year.

“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 the DWP, under successive governments dating back to 1995, and the Supreme Court refused the claimants permission to appeal.”

Express.co.uk has contacted the DWP and WASPI for further comment.

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