It says the 3.8 million affected by the six year delay can’t blame DWP maladministration for their financial losses and bad health
The second stage of the Parliamentary Ombudsman’s investigation into maladministration at the Department for Work and Pensions in failing to inform 3.8 million women born in the 1950s has dealt a devastating blow to their hopes of any meaningful compensation.
The confidential 298 paragraph provisional report, seen by me, is meant to analyse whether the maladministration finding means the women could be entitled to compensation following the first inquiry finding of maladministration for a 28 month period after 2006 The answer is very little and miles away from the £50,000 full restitution demanded in the courts by the Backto60 campaign
The report is also damning for the cause of the Waspi campaign who put all their resources into expecting the Ombudsman to come to the rescue. It is plain from the reading of the provisional report that he has no intention of doing so. This why I suspect Waspi have sent a desperate letter to the two Tory leadership candidates asking for a one off payment. When whoever wins gets round to seeing this Ombudsman’s report they won’t need to bother. The report contains no recommended figures for compensation. That will be in the next report.
The first paragraph of the report knocks down -one of the central planks of the 50swomen case- that nobody really realised the 1995 Pensions Act really meant the pension age for women was rising from 60 to 65 15 years later.
It reads:” The evidence we have seen so far suggests timely and accurate information was available about the change in eligibility criteria for a State Pension, including how someone’s National Insurance record links to how much State Pension they can claim once they reach State Pension age. Research showed the majority of people knew about the changes“
Everybody knew about the pensions changes says report
Instead it blames the women themselves for not realising their impending losses while the rest of the UK knew exactly what was going on. Really?
“Research also showed that too many people did not understand their own situations and how State Pension reform affected them. The gap between awareness and understanding was highlighted by the Work and Pensions Committee and the National Audit Office. DWP does not appear to have used research and feedback to improve its service and performance. In this respect, DWP does not seem to have demonstrated principles of good administration. We think that was maladministration. However, we do not think this maladministration led to the financial losses complainants claim.“
The report then emphasises that people had a choice in the old pension system – to pay for an additional pension on top of the basic state pension – but some chose to contract out of this. This is in fact not entirely true as some employers contracted them out of this scheme -so they would not have to contribute. As a result when the new pension came in in 2016 – some of these women will not get the full pension even though they have contributed for years.
The report then follows the Department of Work and Pensions line that this really doesn’t matter as everybody in the UK will be better off under the new pension than the old one. This is the same line the DWP used not to compensate people promised a Guaranteed Minimum Pension though millions lost out. But as I have said before this is a false comparison because everybody gets this new pension level whether they need to be compensated or not.
Maladministration did not cause financial consequences
It then turns to the issue of the hardship caused to the women by this long wait. The report said:
“We also do not think maladministration in DWP’s communication of changes to State Pension age more likely than not led to all the financial, health, domestic and emotional consequences complainants claim. Complainants told us they made choices they would not have made if they had known their State Pension age had changed, and described the financial, family and health consequences those choices have had. However, some of their choices had already been made by the
time DWP should have written to them about changes resulting from the 1995 Pensions Act.
We do not think women lost opportunities to make different decisions, if those decisions had already been made by the time DWP should have written to them.“
Instead it sticks to the argument that a 28 month delay in writing to women from December 2006 to April 2009 left ” some women are left not knowing whether they could have been in a different financial position, and whether they could have avoided the health and emotional consequences they claim. We think that not knowing is an injustice resulting from maladministration in DWP’s communication about State Pension age.
“We also think the anger and outrage complainants feel about not having as much notice of their State Pension age as they should have, could have been avoided if DWP had written to them when it should have. Their sense of anger and outrage is a further injustice resulting from maladministration in DWP’s communication about State Pension age.”
Changes just caused worry and confusion for some
Instead it found the maladministration caused worry and confusion and emotional stress.
This finding is crucial to the level of compensation – actual financial loss and bad health command a much higher level of compensation than worry and confusion. This finding is a real blow to those thinking they are going to get a meaningful pay out.
Finally the report exonerates the role of the Independent Case examiner (ICE) ruling out any compensation for people dissatisfied with its work.
“We think ICE should have said that it could not determine whether or not DWP had written to individual complainants who said they had never received a letter about their State Pension age, instead of telling them it was more likely than not they had been sent a letter. But even if ICE had appropriately balanced the evidence in this way, we do not think the shortcoming in its handling of this issue was significant enough to be a failure to ‘get it right’”
Now there are two issues worth adding. The public statement from the Parliamentary Ombudsman completely glosses over the real meat of this report.
It says: We have shared the provisional views for the second stage of the investigation with complainants, their MPs, DWP and ICE. They now have an opportunity to provide comment.
It also promises to speed up the investigation and publish this report with its final report recommending levels of compensation, which has been welcomed by some MPs.
But remember you are reading this report one year before the Parliamentary Ombudsman wants you to know its contents. You now have an opportunity to comment on my website just like the organisations listed above.
Ombudsman report pulls the rug under the Waspi campaign
The second is the claim in the open letter to the two Tory candidates fighting to be PM. Now signed by over 15,000 people which asks people to pledge for a one off single payment:
” Our simple, pragmatic ask is that ministers open a dialogue with us about a one-off compensation payment to make up for the financial loss and emotional trauma caused to women born in the 1950s, as a result of the maladministration at the DWP in the period 2008-2012.”
The problem for all these people is that unfortunately for them the Parliamentary Ombudsman report has pulled the rug from under their feet- by ruling out compensation for financial losses.
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