MPs are throwing their support behind securing justice for women affected by the state pension age changes.
So far 43 MPs have written to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO), calling for a speedy conclusion to its review of how much damage was caused by the way the pension age changes were communicated to women born in the 1950s, and for fair compensation.
The PHSO could recommend compensation anywhere from £100 to £10,000 or more per person.
The Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) campaign, which represents some of the affected women, said the response from cross-party MPs had been “phenomenal”.
“Over 40 MPs so far have taken up the case of 1950s-born women in their constituencies and we expect this number to continue to rise,” said Angela Madden, chair of Waspi.
“This is a critical time for Waspi women and we are grateful to the broad coalition of MPs from right across the political spectrum who are united behind our fight for fair and fast compensation.”
Many women retired early or made life-changing decisions based on getting their pension at 60. The ramifications of the policy change and lack of notice has left them in emotional and financial distress, they say.
Their plight is under review by the PHSO, which has already found the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) guilty of maladministration for failing to sufficiently inform the women about the state pension age changes.
Despite that, the ombudsman only found a limited level of injustice, which suggests a low level of compensation would be recommended in the report.
John Halford, a partner at law firm Bindmans who represents Waspi, is critical of the PHSO investigation, saying it is wrong that the watchdog has failed to find that the women suffered direct financial loss or lost opportunities because of the maladministration. Waspi launched legal action against the ombudsman as a result.
Though the PHSO maintains its investigation is fair and impartial, it decided to take another look at its findings after recognising part of the report was legally flawed. This move has raised hopes of a higher compensation award, although it is not guaranteed.
As Waspi awaits the results of the review, which could come before summer, it is urging supporters to contact their MP to put pressure on the PHSO to “complete the investigation with a sense of urgency” and make “fair” recommendations for compensation.
These are two of 10 demands that Waspi hopes will mean the PHSO’s findings are legally sound and correctly addresses the injustice caused by the DWP’s maladministration.
The PHSO said: “We are confident that we have completed a fair and impartial investigation. As an independent Ombudsman, our duty is to provide the right outcome for all involved and make sure justice is achieved.
“Given the legal challenge brought against us, we have agreed to look again at part of our stage 2 report. We hope this cooperative approach will provide the quickest route to remedy for those affected and reduce the delay to the publication of our final report.”
The DWP 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.”