‘Parliament should intervene in WASPI case’

A report from the Parliament and Health Service Ombudsman has identified DWP failings in relation to the raising of the State Pension Age for women and has called for Parliament to intervene to compensate those affected.


Parliament must intervene and hold the Department for Work and Pensions [DWP] to account for failure to adequately inform thousands of women that the State Pension Age had changed and should seek to compensate them as quickly as possible, according to a comprehensive investigation by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman [PHSO].

The 1995 Pensions Act and subsequent legislation raised the State Pension age for women born on or after 6th April 1950 – the so-called WASPI women. For several years the PHSO has been investigating complaints that, since 1995, DWP has failed to provide accurate, adequate and timely information about areas of State Pension reform. Stage one of the investigation was published in July 2021 and found failings in the way DWP communicated changes to women’s State Pension age.

The final report, released today combines stages two and three of the investigation and covers both maladministration and compensation. The report points out that DWP has not acknowledged its failings or  offered any apology or explanation for these. It has indicated it will not compensate women affected by its failure.

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 report has been laid before Parliament, with a recommendation that it looks at the findings and intervenes to agree a remedy for the women affected. In addition to paying compensation, the PHSO has made it clear that DWP should acknowledge its failings and apologise for the impact it has had on complainants and others similarly affected. A report from the Ombudsman later in the year will set its findings about all the failings it has identified.

Pensions engagement

Lily Megson, Policy Director at My Pension Expert, said the DWP seemed to be “playing for time that it just doesn’t have” by promising to respond to the Ombudsman’s report in “due course”.

She added: “Ultimately, this case demonstrates the importance of clearer communication around pension policies. When reforms are introduced, consumers need to be made well aware of what the changes entail and how they will impact their finances. A crucial part of this – one that is so often overlooked – is opening up better pathways so people can seek out financial information, guidance and advice.

“The government may fall back on the excuse that it provides suitable warning over changes to the state pension age, but the truth is that people need much, much more support in understanding the rules that govern their pensions and retirements. Hopefully, today’s report is the wake-up call the government needs to develop a robust strategy for improving pension engagement and education around financial planning, including the value of independent advice.”

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