That confidential Ombudsman’s report on 50swomen pensions summary in full: For the benefit of all WASPI members

Rob Behrens, Parliamentary Ombudsman

My reporting and coverage of the confidential provisional Parliamentary Ombudsman’s Report into the maladministration has caused considerable controversy particularly among the people at the top of Waspi. People who follow me on Backto60 have been very grateful for keeping them informed. People on Waspi have objected to me publishing it at all and have kept their members in the dark about its contents. Robert Behrens, the Parliamentary Ombudsman, is constrained by law from publishing it while his investigation continues. People at the top of Waspi have accused me of only publishing snippets which undermine Waspi’s case.

To dispel any doubts here is the full summary of his findings (the report is 298 paragraphs long) – though there is a link in a comment on my previous blog to the full report in the comments section. You can see the Ombudsman makes it clear that maladministration over a 28 month period ” caused complainants unnecessary stress and anxiety and meant an opportunity to lessen their distress was lost.  For some complainants, it also caused unnecessary worry and confusion.” But it rejects that ” this maladministration led to the financial losses complainants claim.”

In other words it has no intention of compensating people who have lost up to £50,000 through the changes or anywhere near this. Need I say more. Here is the summary.

Provisional views

Reference: SPA (stage 2) Complained about:           Department for Work and Pensions                           Independent Case Examiner

The issues we are considering and our provisional views

  1. In July 2021 we issued the report for stage one of our investigation into complaints about the adequacy of DWP’s communication of changes to State Pension age, and associated issues.  We found that maladministration led to a delay in DWP writing directly to women about changes to their State Pension age. 
  • We are now working on stage two of our investigation.  This stage is considering complaints about:
  • DWP’s communication of changes to the number of qualifying years National Insurance contributions required for a full State Pension
    • DWP’s complaint handling
    • the Independent Case Examiner’s (ICE’s) handling of complaints about DWP’s communication of State Pension age changes.  
  • It is also considering the impact of any failings by DWP and ICE, including the injustice arising from the maladministration identified during stage one of our investigation.   
  • This document sets out:
  • a summary of our provisional views
    • the evidence we are considering
    • our analysis so far of DWP’s communication of changes to National

Insurance qualifying years, including o background 

  • what should have happened – the relevant standards 
    • what did happen o our provisional views
    • our analysis so far of DWP’s and ICE’s complaint handling, including o what should have happened – the relevant standards
      • what did happen o our provisional views

our analysis so far of injustice

Summary of our provisional views

  • 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.
  • However, 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.
  • Before 2016, people built up ‘qualifying years’ towards a Basic State Pension by paying National Insurance or through, for example, receiving benefits credits towards their National Insurance record.  Some people paid National Insurance to build up entitlement to an earnings-related State Pension on top of the Basic State Pension.  The earnings-related State Pension was called the Additional State Pension.  
  • Not everyone paid National Insurance towards the Additional State Pension.  Some people who joined personal or occupational pension schemes ‘contracted out’ of the Additional State Pension when they joined those schemes. While they continued to build up qualifying years for a Basic State Pension, they gave up their entitlement to the Additional State Pension. So, a person who had always contracted out would have been entitled to the Basic State Pension and their personal or occupational pension when they reached State Pension age, instead of being entitled to the Basic State Pension and Additional State Pension.
  • From April 2016, the new State Pension replaced the Basic State Pension and the Additional State Pension.  The full rate of the new State Pension is higher than the full rate of the old Basic State Pension.  People who were contracted out of the Additional State Pension before April 2016 but have reached or will reach State Pension age after April 2016 may not be eligible for the full rate of new State Pension.  A ‘contracted out deduction’ is made when calculating their starting amount of new State Pension to reflect the fact they contributed less into the National Insurance system in return for a personal or occupational pension. 
  1. Transitional arrangements introduced with the new State Pension mean that none of the complainants – or people like them – will get less State Pension under the ‘new’ rules introduced in April 2016 than they would have got under the ‘old’ ones.  DWP compares what they would have been entitled to under the old system and what they are entitled to under the new system, and they get the higher of these amounts.  The transitional arrangements also allow them to do things to add to their starting amount of new State Pension if it is lower than the full rate.  Having considered the complainants’ individual circumstances, we do not think they have lost any opportunities to add to their starting amount. 
  1. 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.
  1. However, we think an additional 28 months’ notice would have given complainants opportunities to consider, for example, saving, looking for work or changing job.  While there is too much we cannot now know for us to be able say what would have happened, it seems that 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.
  1. 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.
  1. We think some aspects of DWP’s complaint handling reflected applicable standards.  But, DWP does not appear to have adequately investigated or responded to the complaints it was considering, or avoided unnecessary delay.  In these respects, DWP does not seem to have demonstrated principles of good complaint handling.  We think that was also maladministration. 
  1. We think maladministration in DWP’s complaint handling caused complainants unnecessary stress and anxiety and meant an opportunity to lessen their distress was lost.  For some complainants, it also caused unnecessary worry and confusion.
  1. We think ICE’s complaint handling reflected applicable standards and guidance.  ICE appears to have acted within the scope of its remit, which is set out in its contract with DWP. We note, however, our view that the contract meant ICE could not address complainants’ key concern that they did not have as much personal notice of changes to their State Pension age as they should have.
  1. Finally, 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’.

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34 thoughts on “That confidential Ombudsman’s report on 50swomen pensions summary in full: For the benefit of all WASPI members

  1. The DWP didn’t ever write to me. I have worked continuously and thy always new my address. It didn’t go missing or misplaced. They didn’t inform me. Simply failed in their duty. Born 1954 owed around £48000

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  2. How dare he say it was our fault, and not checking, my divorce was based on me retiring at 60, I’ve lost £54000, I need compensation now the situation with the government cocking everything up regarding energy and mortgage how r we suppose to survive. I worked 43 years to get my pension

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  3. I was not informed about the changes either. I entered into a contract with them in 1971 or 2 when they wrote to me telling me if I paid full stamp instead of married womens stamp I would get a full pension in my own right at 60. I had to sign forms and send back to them which I did and they charged me full insurance for 50 years . They owe me my pension monies and my national insurance contributions which should have stopped when I reached 60. At the rate I paid national insurance a considerable amount of money

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Another Whitewash. Just what we all expected. Because they stole too much money from us and have no intention of paying it back. All the ones examining this case are all people with high wages and pensions.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m afraid that you have misunderstood part of the summary and are conflating the 28 month maladministration period with the NI issue.

    You state; “You can see the Ombudsman makes it clear that maladministration over a 28 month period ” caused complainants unnecessary stress and anxiety and meant an opportunity to lessen their distress was lost. For some complainants, it also caused unnecessary worry and confusion.” But it rejects that ” this maladministration led to the financial losses complainants claim.”

    You have picked out parts of different sections and put them together as if they were one. The first 2 sentences are about the DWP’s complaint handling and the last sentence is about the NI issue alone. None of what you’ve quoted here was about the 28 month maladministration period despite what you’re claiming.

    This section is about the 28 month maladministration period.

    “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.

    However, we think an additional 28 months’ notice would have given complainants opportunities to consider, for example, saving, looking for work or changing job. While there is too much we cannot now know for us to be able say what would have happened, it seems that 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.”

    At least in publishing the full summary we can see for ourselves that you have made errors. Is this through you simply not understanding the difference between the two issues or by purposely trying to mislead us? I sincerely do hope it’s the former.

    I do agree that the PHSO is not going to award large sums of money but I’m afraid your lack of understanding here is not helping anyone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What the PHSO is saying is complete and utter bollocks.

      The financial loss is the non payment of state pension from 60 to 66, which was not informed to the mass of the public from 1993.

      We were not individually informed of the budget in 1993, deciding women’s pension age would rise from 60 to 65.

      No political party in parliament informed us the House of Commons was debating women’s pension age rise between 1993 and 1995, which was direct theft, and age discrimination against men, who had not been paid state pension from age 60 since 1940.

      Blair and Brown’s Labour government between 1997 and 2010 failed to individually write to us about a whole raft of pension age rises they did, in works and state pensions.

      Lib Dems Pension Minister in government between 2010 and 2015, directly caused age discrimination against women and men the same, by bringing into law pension age rises for women and not lowering pension age to 60 for men.

      Lib Dems Pension Minister could not write to us individually, because he brought pension age rises to women at warp speed.

      The Greens’ manifesto in 2010 would not have lowered pension age back.

      They are all bastards.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Wonder how much they got paid for coming up with this load of baloney??!! I got nothing from my ex husband’s pension when we divorced-it wasn’t takin into consideration in the settlement!! I have a dwp letter from 2009 which gives my retirement date at age 60 and says I would get a full pension-it’s absolutely ridiculous

    Liked by 1 person

    • In 2009 women’s pension age was 60.

      The 2011 pension act from Lib Dems Pension Minister, accelerated and thus brought more 1950s ladies into pension age rise above 60.

      The 2011 pension act also added quicker the 2007 pension act’s pension age rise to 66, to 1950s ladies.

      www dot over50sparty dot org uk

      Like

  7. Very curious to see three of the Waspi critics of my piece, Janice Richardson, Pat Morgan and Dorothy Spring on this blog and the last one are using the same identical IP address and presumably sharing the same computer. Perhaps they are living together or share an office. As editor of my own blog WordPress are very good at picking up such details allowing you to trace who is commenting and from which part of the country.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. One has to wonder why you’ve chosen not to answer my points but instead to accuse me of being in some sort of collaboration with two other people.

    Like

  9. Thank you for publishing the report in full. Being as 1950’s women I confidently and 100% know that I was 58 when I received my FIRST letter/forecast telling me when I would receive my state pension. A 2 year notice period! It would seem this is the case with women of my age. NEED I SAY MORE!!!!!

    Like

  10. Dear David Hencke, This is not only a WASPI complaint to a government department, as the legal letters were able to downloaded from their website, free of charge.

    I got replies from ICE, but have no received a reply from the PHSO, even though I did all 4 letters.

    This is maladministration to the non WASPI members, who have equal rights to equally complaint about lack of communication about women’s pension age rise, by individual letters.

    www dot over50sparty dot org dot uk

    Like

  11. Thanks for sharing this! As I commented before .. it is disheartening to see conflict between groups speaking for the whole cohort of 50s born women.

    Hope that the Ombudsman recommends compensation to the max. ie equivalent to full restitution but ‘hae ma doots’ (doubts) from reading this.

    Karen

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  12. I too did not receive any communication whatsoever about any changes to my pension! What an injustice this is, so many of us reliant on our pension to be paid at age 60 years and we have been robbed of our rights! I’ve paid in for 47 years and deserve what’s owed to me!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. David, this is a wonderful expose! Why are WASPI so concerned about people seeing the outcome. It’s like when the Bible was only in Latin so people didn’t know what the truth is!

    I am not sure whether the statement ‘noone worse off under the new scheme than the old’ because of Transitional arrangements; in my own case I was covered by RRE and but they only allowed me to count NIC to 2016. I worked/paid NIC to 2021/2 so 6 years didn’t count for me. Any thoughts anyone??

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  14. David, this is a wonderful expose! Why are WASPI so concerned about people seeing the outcome. It’s like when the Bible was only in Latin so people didn’t know what the truth is!

    I am not sure whether the statement ‘noone worse off under the new scheme than the old’ because of Transitional arrangements; in my own case I was covered by RRE and but they only allowed me to count NIC to 2016. I worked/paid NIC to 2021/2 so 6 years didn’t count for me. Any thoughts anyone??

    Also I had made a complaint myself about maladmin. The PHSO office refused to send me a copy of the report you have now published here – bless you.

    In order to formally lodge my complaint, the PHSO office insisted my MP countersign my forms, which she did but they still wouldn’t give me a copy. I wondered if my complaint was actually one of the 2500 trashed by ICE?? I’m confused. It is a very nefarious affair in its entirety; how can the PHSO agree maladmin but disagree we have lost money? I lost 6 years pension – some £40k+ – and 6 years of life choices which are PRICELESS.

    It’s a cover-up by PHSO and separately by WASPI.

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  15. The allegation of collusion points to something sinister.

    Janice said:

    ‘I do agree that the PHSO is not going to award large sums of money…’

    The PHSO does not ‘award’ money to anyone. – it recommends financial remedy.

    Even if public opinion and political pressure swayed the Ombudsman to recommend compensation to a large numbers of complainants, would the DWP pay up? (Cue Ombudsman: ‘If only I had greater powers…’)

    1. How much does Janice think the PHSO might recommend in financial remedy for each person affected (scale of injustice)?

    2. How many robbed pensioners does Janice think will receive compensation?

    (In 2022, the PHSO recommended financial remedy in only 35 Parliamentary cases,) .

    https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/889879/response/2118492/attach/3/FOI%2000000286.pdf?cookie_passthrough=1

    3. What must people prove for the Ombudsman to recommend compensation?

    My answers:

    1. Scale 1;

    2. not more than 35 (vague I know, optimistic too);

    3. That they didn’t get a letter notifying them of the changes.

    The day will come when the Ombudsman will explain that despite all his hard work investigating the matter he can’t recommend compensation without evidence. Prove you didn’t get a letter?

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    • You cannot prove a negative. DWP should prove they sent them! The DWP has kept NO proper records of letters sent – which luckily support its claim we were notified! It wasn’t until the turn of the millenium that they have kept proper records of leaflets etc. If that alone isn’t DWP maladministration, what is?

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  16. A serious and trustworthy Ombudsman acting in the public interest would make the following findings

    1. The DWP campaign to raise awareness was flawed and ineffectual and failed to inform the public of major changes to their pensions.
    2. The DWP failed to research or carry out feedback of their campaign in the early stages and failed to act on the findings when they finally did so.
    3. The affected members of the public suffered from serious distress and hardship as a result of the DWP failures.

    The Ombudsman should then recommend high levels of compensation for those affected by the DWP’s failures.

    However the role of the Ombudsman is to downplay complaints and minimise claims of injustice in order to keep compensation payments low and avoid rocking the boat. This is what he is doing in this case.

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    • This is because equal rights isn’t about treating everyone the same. By not recognising that women are financially disadvantaged as a group the raising of the pension age exacerbated the problem rather than help to ameliorate it – which was why there was a lower pension age for women.

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  17. 50s Women have been well and truly robbed. not only was they a huge lack of info on these state pension age rises discrimination works in more than one way if the men were discriminated against as the excuse that as been given…why weren’t there age reduced?? instead 50s women got discriminated against by moving the goal posts and putting our pension age up not once but twice for me and other Ladies too. as for the Ombudsman it’s time the WASPI women pulled their heads out of the clouds as all he can do is RECCOMEND a SOlUTION to his findings which means the thieving DWP GOV will keep sweeping this under the Commons No 10 carpets and we will get Nothing. the Justice System let us down too. if they was any chance of reimbursement or compensation it would have been given by now. we have been and will continually keep being shafted by this and any other heartless and incompetent governments.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Yes! Heads out of clouds…….plus
    Fingers out of WASPI *rses
    and money for legal case out of the WASPI bank, money which impoverished women have given as ‘memberships’ and WASPI leadership has now stashed away out of the account.

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  19. I am still trying to find the answer to what has happened to my Graduated Pension which I believe I was still entitled to from Age 60 but cannot get anyone to answer my question. Perhaps the Ombudsman knows this in his wisdom

    Like

  20. Not all 50s women (waspi) has had a chance to speak as a Waspi woman worked an extr 6 yrs ( of paying tax,n/ins etc but in those extra 6 yrs i had 3 strokes which has impacted on the state of my life and its contents ( in a nutshell i no longer have a good quality of life) no one has sent me a letter etc to see how ot had impacted my life

    Like

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