Provisional ruling against government opens door to potential compensation for thousands born in 1950s
A confidential letter shows the Parliamentary Ombudsman, Sir Robert Behrens, has managed to both exonerate and damn the Department for Work and Pensions for its handling of the administration of the rise in the pension age for millions of women born in the 1950s and 1960s,
According to David Hencke’s the letter contains the provisional findings of an investigation which has taken years to undertake by his office – also wrongly temporarily halted because of a court case brought by Back To 60 seeking full restitution of the hundreds of millions lost by pensioners on grounds of inequality not maladministration.
The ministry is exonerated for all the work it did between 1995 and 2004 – from the passing of the 1995 Pensions Act.
The ombudsman’s tentative decision leaked on social media on Tuesday opens the door to potential compensation payments for thousands of women who claim they haven’t been given enough notice to adjust their retirement plans. open.
Thousands of women have complained about how the government informed them about raising the age at which pensions begin to be paid from 60 to 65. Until 2018.
In 2018, the Ombudsman announced plans to investigate complaints received by the Ombudsman, both for the Department for Work and Pensions and for independent case examiners reviewing complaints about the government sector. Affected women say they have run out of savings if they work longer than planned or have to wait for their pensions.
The Ombudsman investigate complaints from the general public who believe that the government sector or certain public authorities are not behaving properly or fairly, or are suffering fraudulently because they have provided inadequate services and did things incorrectly.
DWP exonerated for first nine years of the announced change
The relevant paragraph reads: ” Between 1995 and 2004, accurate information about changes to State Pensions Age was publicly available in leaflets, through DWP’s agencies and on its website. What the DWP did reflects expectations set out in the Civil Service Code, the DWP Policy Statement, the Pension Services Customer Services Charter and the Benefit Agency Customer Charter”.
But the provisional report go on to make findings of maladministration for the department’s handling of events from 2005 to 2007 when it belatedly found out through internal research that people still did not know about the change and needed targeted information.
In this case, it appears the Ombudsman has found Maladministration practices. Maladministration is the actions of a government body which can be seen as causing an injustice. The law in the United Kingdom says Ombudsmen must investigate maladministration.
According to the preliminary findings of a sample of six complaints by the Ombudsman, the DWP set standards for the proper and accurate communication of women’s pension age-raising plans from 1995 to 2004, when the changes were first enacted. It turns out that it meets.
But the ombudsman decided the DWP had failed to act promptly after analysis in 2004 found the government information campaign was not reaching the “people who needed it”, and recommended a targeted approach.
In 2006, the DWP proposed directly writing to women individually to tell them their state pension age was rising after a further survey found that nearly half of women affected thought the pension age was still 60.
The DWP did not implement the proposals until December 2007, three years before the pension age was due to begin to rise, after further “depressing” research results, according to documents setting out the provisional findings.
NO LETTER, NO NOTICE, NO PENSION
The report reveals that at the time the ministry had a sufficient database to have issued targeted information to people who were affected by 2005. But the huge delay in sending out letters meant in the worse case scenario many women did not get an official letter until 14 years after the event. The letter quotes Paul Lewis, a financial campaigning journalist, saying on average women born in the 1950s did not get a letter until one year and four months before they turned 60.
The ombudsman has provisionally determined that the DWP should have acted 28 months sooner in writing write to women who analysis identified were unaware of the forthcoming increases to their pension ages, according to the documents.
The ombudsman, which is expected to finalise its findings in late July, is now writing to complainants, advising them it believes maladministration was behind the communication delay.
“We are currently considering comments on our provisional findings,” the ombudsman said in a statement to the FT. “It’s important we do this thoroughly so we reach a fair and robust decision.”
Before it makes any recommendations for compensation, the ombudsman will examine whether any maladministration led to an injustice to the complainants.
The DWP said it did not comment on leaks or live ombudsman investigations.
However, a spokesman added: “The government decided 25 years ago that it was going to make the state pension age the same for men and women as a long-overdue move towards gender equality.”
Both the High Court and Court of Appeal have supported the actions of the DWP, under successive governments dating back to 1995, and the Supreme Court recently refused the claimants’ permission to appeal.”
The provisional findings come as the DWP is engulfed in a growing scandal over underpaid state pensions for more than 200,000 women, with the bill for putting things right estimated at about £2.7bn.
The state pension age has now risen to 66 for men and women.