DWP let women down on retirement age changes, ombudsperson says


WOMEN Left out by surprise, pension changes were abandoned by the Department of Work and Pensions, an ombudsman found.

The DWP knew that many women born into their fifties were unaware of the pension changes – but did not act urgently.

The 1995 pension law equalized this age for men and women with an upward trend that affected 3.8 million women born in the 1950s.

The scandal sparked a number of campaigns, including Waspi (Women Against State Pension Inequality).

Today, the Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman (PHSO) said the ministry took too long to respond after learning that a significant proportion of women were unaware of the changes. at the state retirement age.

The ombudsman said he had received a significant number of complaints about the way this was communicated by the DWP, with many women unaware of the changes experiencing significant financial loss and emotional distress.

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Failures in the measures taken by the DWP to communicate the state’s retirement age occurred from 2005, he said.

The PHSO will now examine the impact of these failures and make recommendations to address any associated injustices.

Amanda Amroliwala, CEO of PHSO, said: “After a detailed investigation, we found that the DWP did not act quickly enough once it learned that a significant proportion of women were unaware of the changes to their retirement age. to women affected at least 28 months earlier than he did.

“We will now examine the impact of these failures and the measures to be taken to remedy them.”

The PHSO provides a complaints handling service for NHS issues in England and UK government departments.

A DWP spokesperson said: “Both the High Court and the Court of Appeal have supported the actions of the DWP, under successive governments dating back to 1995, and the Supreme Court has denied the plaintiffs leave to appeal. .

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

Tom Selby, senior analyst at investment firm AJ Bell, said: “Millions of women have been affected by the increase in the retirement age originally provided for in the 1995 Pensions Act.

“It was reasonable for these women to expect the government to provide as much information as possible to communicate changes that would have such a profound impact on their retirement plans.”

He added: “The mediator now plans to examine the impact of this injustice, which will undoubtedly lead to more pressure for a resolution.

“Given the precarious state of the UK’s finances, calls in some quarters for full compensation for affected women – which could amount to six years of state pensions – are likely to fall on the ears of one. deaf.”

David Linden, SNP spokesperson for Work and Pensions, commented: “This report exposes multiple failings and instances of maladministration by the Ministry of Work and Pensions over an extended period.

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“The ombudsman criticized the DWP’s handling of communications relating to the state’s increased retirement age, effectively noting that ministers were continuing to take the same measures despite knowing it was not working and that women were left in the dark about their retirement.

“Women born in the 1950s suffered a tremendous injustice which has now been recognized by the Ombudsman. They were denied the retirement they deserved and I hope the full impact of this is recognized.”

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