Hartlepool campaigners welcome watchdog's verdict in state pension age row
Women’s pension campaigners in Hartlepool are celebrating after an official watchdog found the Department of Work and Pensions was guilty of maladministration in how it communicated changes to the state pension age.
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) said government officials failed to failed to act quickly enough once it knew a significant proportion of women were unaware of the changes in raising the state pension age in phases to 65 and 66.
Many women said that they were not aware of the changes and experienced significant financial loss and emotional distress, it said.
More than 5,000 women in Hartlepool were affected.
The Ombudsman found that the DWP was guilty of maladministration from 2004 onwards when it failed to contact 1950s born women in person to inform them of the changes to their state pension age.
It said: “The Department for Work and Pensions did not provide women with accurate, adequate and timely information about the changes to their state pension age and that was maladministration.”
It has been hailed as vindication by Women Against State Pension Injustice (WASPI), which has campaigned for fair transitional pension arrangements and compensation for all women affected.
Lynne Taylor and Barbara Crossman, co-ordinators of Hartlepool WASPI Supporters Group, said: “We are very pleased that, after a long and thorough investigation, the Ombudsman has found that maladministration took place when we were not properly notified of the changes to our state pension age, that has affected 5,500 Hartlepool women and has had a financial impact on their households.
“This is a very welcome step in the right direction. We hope the Ombudsman will now complete the next stage and decide that an injustice has taken place that deserves compensation.
“The government will then have a moral duty to put things right. We are looking for a fair and fast solution.”
They said hundreds of women in Hartlepool have lodged complaints over the past two years with the help of WASPI coordinators.
But the Ombudsman’s final ruling will apply to all 1950s born women affected by the changes, not just those who have lodged a complaint.
A DWP spokesperson pointed out that its actions had been supported by the High Court and Court of Appeal.
Further information about WASPI is available at www.waspi.co.uk