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Complaints about communication of changes to women’s State Pension age

The judgment of the judicial review heard in the High Court on 5 and 6 June 2019 was issued on 3 October 2019.

We have since learned that an application has been submitted to appeal the judgment. We need to await the outcome of that application before we decide whether to investigate complaints we have received about similar issues. To make sure we can decide as quickly as possible when the outcome of the application is known, we will continue to consider the evidence presented to the High Court and reasons given for the judgment.

Background

In October 2018, we issued a proposal to investigate a sample of complaints brought to us about the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Independent Case Examiner (ICE) regarding changes in Women’s State Pension age. When the judicial review was announced, we found that it would consider similar issues to those we were proposing to investigate.

We considered the impact of the judicial review on our proposed investigation and reached the view that it would not be practical or proportionate for us to investigate while similar and related issues were being considered by the court. 

We have received a significant number of similar complaints since we first proposed to investigate, and these numbers have increased in recent weeks. Our review of the complaints we have received shows that they relate to the same key issues. As we are currently considering whether to investigate these key issues, we are not accepting any new complaints about them at present.

The complaints we have received

We have received complaints about the Department for Work and Pensions’ communication regarding changes to women’s State Pension age, first introduced by the Pensions Act 1995, and associated issues. 

Women say they have experienced financial loss and a negative impact on their health, emotional well-being or home life as a result.

More information

Who is affected by the changes to State Pension age for women?

Women born after 6 April 1950 are affected by changes in state pension age introduced by the Pensions Act 1995 and further changes made in subsequent years. To see how you are affected visit the GOV.UK website.

Are the issues that the Court looked at and the Ombudsman proposed to investigate the same? 

There is significant overlap between the issues we proposed to investigate and the issues the High Court considered, although not all the issues we proposed to investigate were considered as part of the judicial review. This includes the way DWP and ICE handled complaints, and the way changes to National Insurance were communicated.

The High Court made a ruling on 3 October 2019, but an application has been submitted to appeal that ruling.  We need to wait for the outcome of the appeal application before we decide whether to investigate.

In the meantime, and to make sure we can make that decision as quickly as possible when the outcome of the application is known, we will continue to consider the evidence presented to the High Court and reasons given for the judgement.

The High Court did not look at maladministration so why isn’t the Ombudsman investigating now?

While the High Court did not consider maladministration, it did look at similar issues. 

We carefully considered the impact of the judicial review on our proposed investigation and reached the view that it would not be practical or proportionate for us to investigate while related and similar issues were being considered by the High Court.

We considered it likely that relevant evidence would become available during the court proceedings that would impact on our consideration of complaints about changes to the State Pension age for women born in the 1950s.

Now that an application to appeal the High Court ruling has been submitted, we will wait for the outcome of that before we decide whether to investigate. We will continue to consider the evidence presented to the High Court and reasons given for the judgement in the meantime so we can make that decision as quickly as possible once the outcome of the application for appeal is known.

Are you not accepting new complaints because you can’t manage the number of complaints you’re getting?

No. We are not accepting new complaints because no new issues are being complained about.

Does this mean that if somebody hasn’t had a complaint accepted by you already they won’t benefit from any recommendations you might make?

No. If we investigate and make recommendations for compensation, those recommendations would apply to everyone who has been similarly affected by any failings we identify.

Does this mean that you have reached a decision about whether to investigate?

No, the decision not to accept new complaints for the time being is unrelated to the High Court ruling. We are not accepting new complaints because no new issues are being complained about.  We now need to wait for the outcome of the application to appeal the judgment before we decide whether to investigate. In the meantime we will continue to consider the evidence presented to the High Court and reasons given for the judgement so we can decide whether to investigate as quickly as possible once the outcome of the application for appeal is known.

When will you know whether you will investigate? 

The judicial review was heard on 5 and 6 June 2019. The judgment was published on 3 October but an application has been made to appeal that judgment. We need to wait for the outcome of that application before deciding whether to investigate. We are continuing to consider the evidence presented to the High Court and reasons given for the judgement so we can decide whether to investigate as quickly as possible once the outcome of the application for appeal is known. 

Where can I find out more about the changes to State Pension age for women and the judicial review?

Parliament has updated its information on changes in the State Pension age for women born in the 1950s. This includes information about the judicial review. You can find out more on the Parliament.uk website.