The campaigning group Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) has won an out-of-court victory in its battle to get compensation for women born in the 1950s whose pension age has been raised by government decision.
WASPI is not arguing that the pension age should not have been raised, stating that this was done by democratic government decision – but that the way the Department for Work and Pensions provided information about it meant that women were unable to make appropriate choices that they would have made if they had known earlier that their State Pension age would increase, and that this has had emotional and financial impacts on their lives.
The group is arguing for fair, fast and straightforward compensation for the emotional and financial losses – both direct losses and lost opportunities – that women have suffered.
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman has been charged with producing three reports. The first was to establish whether there was maladministration by the DWP in failing to inform affected women that they would not receive their pension when they expected to do so, and that they should make appropriate financial plans.
That report has been published and has stated that there was maladministration.
The second report was to establish whether six sample complainants had suffered any direct financial loss because of DWP maladministration, or any loss of opportunities to make different financial choices.
That report was published and stated that none of them had suffered any such losses.
WASPI argued that the Ombudsman’s reasoning was legally flawed and this would impact on decisions affecting all 1950s born women who were victims of the DWP’s maladministration and said it would bring a judicial review if he would not withdraw the Stage 2 report and think again.
A decision last week means the Ombudsman will indeed withdraw that report.
It is now considered to be legally flawed, and a court will be asked to make a quashing order (because the Ombudsman has no power to withdraw a report that has been sent to complainants and MPs).
The Ombudsman will then reconsider the question of injustice in a re-written second report that must be changed to accommodate the agreement that the original report was flawed.
When a new second report is accepted, the process will move on to a third report which will consider what remedies are necessary for the injustices done to 3.6 million women.
It must also consider whether such remedies should be given to the estates of women who have died in the time since the change to their state pension age was announced.
You can find more complete details here.
This Writer’s view is that this is not a total victory; the Ombudsman may merely seek – and find – another excuse to deny women born in the 1950s any compensation for the injustice they have suffered and campaigners need to be aware of that.
And WASPI accepts that it doesn’t speak for all women who have been disadvantaged by the pension age change. Some are campaigning for full compensation – payment of the amount of pension they would have received if the age change had not happened. WASPI does not think the government will accept such demands.
It is a step forward – but the battle for compensation is a long way from being over.
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