Women affected by state pension rise owed compensation and apology from government, report says

The ombudsman has asked Parliament to intervene and 'act swiftly' to make sure a compensation scheme is established

Thousands of women affected by changes in the state pension age are owed compensation and an apology, a report has concluded.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman says the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) failed to adequately communicate changes to women's state pension age, and that those affected are owed compensation.

The ombudsman has asked Parliament to intervene and “act swiftly” to make sure a compensation scheme is established.

The group of women born in the 1950s known as "Waspi women" (Women Against State Pension Inequality), say the rise in the state pension age in 1995 led them to suffer financially.

The 1995 Pensions Act and subsequent legislation raised the state pension age for women born on or after April 6 1950 from 60 to 65, then further to 66 - making it the same as the men's state pension age.

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The age rise came into effect in 2010, but many women weren't informed about the changes until as little as 12 months before they came into force.

Waspi campaigners had called for compensation of £10,000 for all 3.8 million women, but the report recommends between £1,000 and £2,950.

Chair of the Waspi group Angela Madden told ITV News: "I only got two year's notice of the state pension age change, and I had already given up a full-time job at that time to spend time with my then ailing mother, there's no way you can undo that decision".

Ms Madden said the amount of compensation recommended by the ombudsman wasn't enough, because many women experienced "actual financial losses".

To date, the DWP has not acknowledged its failings, nor put things right for those affected, the report said.

The report found the DWP’s handling of the pension age changes meant some women lost opportunities to make informed decisions about their finances.

It diminished their sense of personal autonomy and financial control, the ombudsman said.

PHSO chief executive Rebecca Hilsenrath said: ”The UK’s national ombudsman has made a finding of failings by DWP in this case, and has ruled that the women affected are owed compensation.

“DWP has clearly indicated that it will refuse to comply. This is unacceptable. The department must do the right thing and it must be held to account for failure to do so.

“Complainants should not have to wait and see whether DWP will take action to rectify its failings.

“Given the significant concerns we have that it will fail to act on our findings, and given the need to make things right for the affected women as soon as possible, we have proactively asked Parliament to intervene and hold the department to account.

“Parliament now needs to act swiftly, and make sure a compensation scheme is established. We think this will provide women with the quickest route to remedy.”

The ombudsman published stage one of its investigation in July 2021. It found failings in the way DWP communicated changes to women’s state pension age.

Speaking before the report's release, Health Minister Andrea Leadsom said: "I've had a number of constituents of my own who've talked to me about this over the years, and I do completely understand the issue".

Labour's Shadow Work and Pensions Minister Alison McGovern said: "When you're planning for your retirement future, you need to understand what you state pension entitlement is going to be, and if there are changes the government has a responsibility to deal with properly".

A DWP spokesperson said: “We will consider the Ombudsman’s report and respond in due course, having cooperated fully throughout this investigation.

“The government has always been committed to supporting all pensioners in a sustainable way that gives them a dignified retirement whilst also being fair to them and taxpayers.

“The State Pension is the foundation of income in retirement and will remain so as we deliver a further 8.5% rise in April which will increase the state pension for 12 million pensioners by £900."

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