WASPI is claiming victory over the latest stage in its campaign to get compensation for women affected by the equalisation of the state pension age.
The WASPI campaign for women born in the 1950s and affected by pension age changes is claiming victory after reaching a settlement with the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman over stage two of their compensation claim.
The Women Against State Pension Inequality campaign was set up after the Government’s decided to raise the retirement age from 60 for women to 65 – the same as men. In 2020 the retirement age rose to 66 for both men and women and it will rise to 67 by 2028. The High Court ruled that the change and the way it was done was not discriminatory, but the WASPI campaign continues to campaign for the many women affected, saying the way the change was brought in has left many women in poverty and arguing that women were no adequately informed by the DWP.
It has been lobbying the Government to compensate those who have reached the State Pension age but have been disadvantaged and for a bridging loan for those who have not yet reached retirement age.
In February this year, it wrote to the Ombudsman and asked him to withdraw his Stage 2 report into WASPI’s claims about government maladministration over the pension changes, which WASPI argues were not properly communicated to women, meaning a big financial penalty for many. The Stage 2 report had not been published, but had been sent to a number of women with outstanding complaints, including six ‘sample complainants’ whose cases the Ombudsman has looked at closely. It concludes that none of the six suffered any direct financial loss or loss of opportunities to make different financial choices as a result of the alleged government maladministration.
WASPI argued that the Ombudsman’s reasoning was legally flawed and that the report would impact on decisions affecting 1950s born women. It said it would bring a judicial review if the Stage 2 report was not withdrawn.
The Ombudsman refused to back down or seek Alternative Dispute Resolution so WASPI proceeded, outlining their argument in detail while WASPI’s and the Ombudsman’s lawyers sought a resolution. That has resulted in a settlement agreement which has been submitted to the Court for approval.
Under the settlement, if approved, the Stage 2 report will be ‘quashed’, meaning it will have no legal bearing on the compensation case; the Ombudsman accepted WASPI’s criticisms that the report was “legally flawed” in some parts and these will be reconsidered; and the draft Stage 3 report (which discussed what remedies should follow from the Stage 2 report) will also have to be reconsidered.
WASPI said: “This is a victory for WASPI – and 1950s born women. It will maximise the chances of compensation for the Department for Work and Pension’s maladministration being decided on a proper basis.”
The Government maintains that it has acted properly. A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: “The Government decided over 25 years ago it was going to make the State Pension age the same for men and women.
“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 refused the claimants permission to appeal.”
*WASPI has posted a Q & A on the settlement here.