Rob Behrens, the Parliamentary Ombudsman, today published his report finding there was maladministration by the Department for Work and Pensions in issuing advance warnings over the rise in the pension age for women born in the 1950s and 1960s.
The report – as previously revealed on this website – is little changed from its draft version – and still insists that up to 2005 there was no maladministration over telling the women that their pension age would rise. After that the report says there were delays.
Amanda Amroliwala, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman CEO, said: “After a detailed investigation, we have found that DWP failed to act quickly enough once it knew a significant proportion of women were not aware of changes to their State Pension age. It should have written to the women affected at least 28 months earlier than it did.
‘We will now consider the impact of these failings, and what action should be taken to address them”
The decision to publish the first part of the investigating before announcing whether the women will be compensated is unprecedented. But according to the press office ” this is because it is the most important investigation we have done” and ” there is a lot of public interest”.
The report is now laid before Parliament and MPs will be able to press the government about its findings.
Andrew Gwynne, joint chair of the All Party Group on the State Pension Inequality for Women, said:
“This report is a landmark moment in the ongoing fight for 1950s women to receive justice, and a vindication of what campaigners have been saying for years. The PHSO has conducted a thorough investigation of a number of complaints and found that there were failings in the actions of the DWP in communicating changes to State Pension.
The DWP must urgently address these findings and advise 1950s women what actions they will take to right the wrongs committed by successive Governments. For too long 1950s women have been ignored, and this must change.”
The question is now what will happen next. The report is the first part of a three stage process.
What happens next?
The next stage will be to examine how badly the women were affected by this process. According to the press office this may not be just examining how the six complainants were affected but will look wider. It is not clear at this stage how this will be done and how long it will take.
Then there is a third process -deciding how much compensation the women will get. It will be nothing like the sums of money women lost – often adding up to as much as £50,000 – but is more likely to be hundreds or low thousands.
Again it is not clear whether the Ombudsman will publish these two processes separately or just issue a final report.
My guess – and it is only a guess- is that this may take a year.
Even when it is published the Department for Work and Pensions will need time to respond and a lot will depend on the timetable the Ombudsman gives them to respond and compensate people.
If I take previous cases involving the DWP- the six will get their compensation within a month- while the remaining millions will have to wait. Also the Ombudsman cannot compel the DWP to compensate them – but pressure from MPs should ensure that people will eventually get the money.
The 3.8 million women and those born in the 1960s are still a long way from justice despite this ruling today.
Previous stories on my blog on this issue are:
I haven’t gone into much detail on the report as you would have read it when I published the draft on June 7.
Those who want to see the report It is here.