One of the biggest campaigns in recent years has been run by the WASPI women, who have been campaigning “against the unfair changes to the State Pension Age imposed on women born in the 1950’s”. WASPI represents women born in the early 1950s who expected to draw their state pension aged 60 but are now concerned they will have to wait until they are 65 or 66 – often with little or no communication from the Government.
Many WASPI woman are pursuing their complaints through the Public Health Service Ombudsman. I ran a large campaign at the end of 2019 to get as many “WASPI” women as possible to complain to the Ombudsman about their case. We sent hundreds and hundreds of cases to them.
Last week the PHSO report found failings in the way the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) communicated changes to women’s State Pension age. The PHSO found that from 2005 onwards, there were failings in the action taken by DWP to communicate the State Pension age. It also states that the DWP “failed to make reasonable decisions based on the information available to it”.
This is a fantastic victory for the hundreds of thousands of woman up and down the country who have been campaigning on this for years.
This is just the first stage of this process. The PHSO will now go on to deliberate whether this maladministration led to an injustice for the complainant.
The Ombudsman explains: “At the second stage, we would also consider the complaints about DWP not adequately communicating the required number of years of national insurance contributions to receive a full state pension, as well as DWP’s and ICE’s complaint handling.
“If we find there was an injustice that has not already been remedied then we will proceed to the third stage and make recommendations to put things right.”
The Government now has a choice to make. It can continue to drag affected woman through a long and protracted ombudsman process or it can get on the front foot and offer serious compensation to those affected. I sincerely hope they will choose the latter.