Women affected by the the state pension age changes could be wasting their money by supporting plans for legal action with hopes of getting more compensation, pension consultants have warned.
But the Waspi (Women Against State Pension Injustice) campaign remains resolute in its search for justice over the way the changes to their retirement age were communicated.
It has raised more than three-quarters of its £100,000 target to fund a judicial review against the Government watchdog investigating their complaints.
The final part of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s (PHSO) investigation is due to be published soon but Waspi claims women are in line to receive a lower level of compensation then they deserve.
“In terms of Judicial Review, nobody can judge whether this is worth spending time and money on,” said former pensions minister Baroness Ros Altmann.
“All legal action carries significant risks and it is not clear what compensation amounts might be awarded even if they win.”
But John Ralfe, an independent pensions consultant, called the plans for a judicial review “a complete waste of time, effort, and money”.
He suspected the legal action would be unsuccessful “because the PHSO acted entirely within its powers in reaching the decision – we don’t officially know the final decision, of course”.
Jennie Kreser, a former pensions lawyer with more than 30 years’ experience, said Waspi’s case was ” sadly misconceived and will likely ultimately fail”.
“Sadly these women are being misled as to both the law and their chance of success. I am directly affected being within the 1950s cohort… Previous court cases confirmed that while communication could have been improved – no communication strategy is perfect – the changes were entirely legal.”
She added: “Given that, it is difficult to understand what the new case is designed to achieve.”
However, the lawyers representing Waspi clearly believe there is a case to take forward in the courts.
Some women born in the 1950s say they have faced financial and emotional distress because they were not adequately informed that their state pension age would rise from 60 to 65, in line with that of men. It is currently 66 for both sexes but will increase again to 67 by 2028.
In an earlier stage of the investigation, the PHSO established that 1950s-born women faced an injustice over some of the communication surrounding the state pension age changes. Its final report will recommend how the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) can remedy the matter, including compensation. However Waspi believes the amount of compensation due to be suggested by the PHSO is not enough.
The group says it has taken legal advice from specialist barristers and solicitors and has “concluded that the Ombudsman is seriously mistaken about the injustice Waspi women have suffered”.
Angela Madden, chair of Waspi, said: “The PHSO’s draft report is a catalogue of errors, which has left Waspi women furious. By definition, this group of women is not well-off, having been so badly failed by the system. However, we are having to ask people to dig deep with any donation they can afford so we can keep the fight for justice alive.
“The upcoming judicial review provides the opportunity for senior judges to force investigators to look again at the case, and we are grateful to all those who have donated to support the action we are taking.”
The DWP has said the decision to equalise the state pension age was made more than 25 years ago and that the courts have supported the department’s actions.
A PHSO spokesperson said: “We are now considering what action DWP should take to put right the injustice we have found. We have shared provisional views with complainants, their MPs and DWP. Once we have considered further evidence we will publish a full report on our findings.”