Exclusive Fresh Update: Betrayal – Parliamentary Ombudsman dumps on 3.6 million 50s born women

Rob Behrens -Parliamentary Ombudsman

Leaked document now published says nearly all not to get one penny compensation – despite his finding of partial maladministration – and WASPI appears to have covered this up

For those who want to see the full document or the few doubters that this can be true – you can read the document here [ google docs] or see below.

Fresh Update: MPs on the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee have taken up this story by writing to Rob Behrens asking for an explanation of the proposed remedy that has been sent to six complainants. Read the letter in full here.

The letter from Tory MP William Wragg, the chair, reads: ” We have received reports that women affected by the changes are expected to receive minimal, if any, financial compensation

“I would therefore be grateful if you could clarify:

  • whether any decisions around financial remedies have been taken or communicated
    to those
  • whether there have been any changes in the expected timeline for the final report;
  • whether there have been any changes in who will be eligible for compensation.”

In what must be the biggest betrayal of complainants since the Ombudsman was set up by Harold Wilson in 1967 Rob Behrens has put out proposals to deprive the vast majority of 1950s born women from any compensation for the maladministration suffered by being not personally informed about the rise in the pension age from 60 to 66.

The six people who complained will get £1000 each and another 600 who complained to the Ombudsman could get the money if the Department for Work and Pensions deign to pay them which on its present record seems unlikely. For the rest there is nothing.

This proposal is a far cry from the promise made by Angela Madden, the leading figure from Waspi, who told a fringe meeting at the Labour Party conference in September that payments of £10,000 to £20,000 each were a possibility for women who had missed out. See here. She has continually urged people to rely on the Ombudsman to sort this out – though recently has suggested a direct approach to the DWP to get a fair settlement because of the numbers of women dying.

A big emphasis has been highlighted by Waspi on making sensible demands and not going for full restitution – now on the basis of direct discrimination- as pushed by Backto60 and now by former judge Jocelynne Scutt, in her report.

Well this is the provisional settlement Waspi has got and it has not been worth the wait. Confidential proposals, seen by these blog, reveal this betrayal. It reads:

The Ombudsman’s proposed remedy -guaranteed £1000 offer to six people

“Our provisional view about remedy is that DWP should:

• publicly acknowledge maladministration in its communication about changes to State Pension age resulting from the 1995 Pensions Act and maladministration in its complaint handling

• publicly apologise for the impact that maladministration has had on the sample complainants and others similarly affected

* pay each sample complainant £1000 compensation for the injustice they have suffered

• establish and fund a compensation scheme to provide equivalent compensation [ie £1000] to anyone else who has suffered the same injustice as the sample complaints because of maladministration in its communication about State Pension age and its complaint handling

• provide an adequate and proportionate financial remedy to anyone who can evidence they suffered financial loss because they lost opportunities to make different decisions due to maladministration in DWP’s communication about State Pension age

• provide an adequate and proportionate financial remedy to anyone who can evidence they lost opportunities to add qualifying years to their National Insurance record because of DWP’s maladministration in not adequately using research and feedback about people’s understanding of the new State Pension to improve its service and performance.”

Now there are a barrel load of problems in this settlement. There also appears to be some level of deceit over recent pronouncements by the PHSO to Parliament and Waspi to the Daily Express and the Independent. First the proposed settlement. To get even this measly £1000 some 3.6 million 50s women have to both prove they didn’t get a letter and prove they lost opportunities to take different decision or lost out to pay in expensive sums to the DWP to build up their pension. Many of these women who were on the breadline would not have had the thousands of pounds of cash to do this.

Joanna Wallace destroyed all the complaining letters from 50swomen

Secondly very simply how do you prove you didn’t get a letter? The DWP has said it has no records and DWP’s so called Independent Case Examiner, Joanna Wallace, as I reported earlier -see here – has conveniently destroyed loads of letters she received complaining about this issue after being cleared of maladministration by the Parliamentary Ombudsman. It is almost as though there have been deliberate moves to make sure no evidence was available in advance of the Ombudsman’s decision.

I also found it extraordinary that the Ombudsman has put forward a remedy so quickly after being quizzed by MPs on the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee last month. At the time – see my blog here – Amanda Amroliwala, chief executive of the Parliamentary Ombudsman, was closely questioned by MPs about the 50swomen investigation and said it could take until March before the full investigation and remedy were published.

To give her the benefit of the doubt perhaps she was so taken aback by the questioning from MPs she may have speeded it up. More suspicious minds might suggest she daren’t tell them what the Ombudsman had in mind because it would create a furore. The only public announcement by the PHSO since then has been it has completed stage 2 of the investigation but still has no remedy in mind.

Angela Madden, chair of Waspi, showcasing her Jubilee Pin for going “the extra mile to improve the lives of others”. Pic credit:Waspi

The other extraordinary behaviour has been by WASPI. An article in the Daily Express on Friday quotes WASPI saying this.

Angela Madden, chair of WASPI, said: “These latest findings confirm the previous conclusion of the Ombudsman that maladministration took place at the Department for Work and Pensions. “But nearly 18 months after the Ombudsman’s first report, we are still waiting for his conclusions on a remedy.  This is becoming a lengthy examination of the blindingly obvious.”

Now by then people had been informed of the proposed remedy. Perhaps Angela Madden didn’t know. or perhaps she didn’t want anyone else to know because it is obviously too embarrassing for their campaign.

The Parliamentary Ombudsman’s press office said they were unable to comment was the investigation was on going.

But John McDonnell, Labour’s former shadow chancellor and a member of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, said: ” This offer is completely unacceptable. I shall be raising it immediately with the PACAC committee”. As Shadow Chancellor he had offered a £58 billion settlement over five years. I await a response from WASPI.

In the meantime Rob Behrens, the Ombudsman, according to his posts on Linked In has been literally glad handing with President Zelensky in Kiev at a special Europe wide human rights conference. Someone ought to ask him about the human rights of the 3.6 million 50s women who will now be cheated by him out of any decent settlement. The DWP must be cheering him on.

As a matter of the interest the pension age for women in Ukraine is 60 – six years below the current age in the UK. See this link.

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