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MP briefing on complaints about communication of changes to women’s state pension age

Update on the handling of complaints about the communication of state pension age changes for women by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

On 8 October, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman issued a proposal to investigate a sample of six complaints about the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and Independent Case Examiner (ICE) in relation to the communication of changes in the state pension age for women born after 6 April 1950 and associated issues. 

Women tell us that they have experienced financial loss and a negative impact on their health, emotional well-being and domestic situations as a result of poor communication of the changes to their state pension age and associated issues. 

The six cases feature all the issues that we have seen so far among approximately 80 complaints brought to us to date. 

The High Court has recently granted permission for a judicial review of the means by which the Government implemented changes to the state pension age, including how the changes were communicated.

Given the significant overlap between the issues we are proposing to investigate and the issues the High Court will consider, we will now wait for the court proceedings to conclude before deciding whether we can and should investigate. Not all of the issues we have proposed to investigate will be considered as part of the judicial review – in particular DWP’s and ICE’s complaint handling and the complaints we have received about communication of changes to National Insurance. However, it would not be practical or proportionate for us to investigate these issues separately while such significant and closely related issues are being considered by the Court.  

Additionally, while the High Court cannot make decisions about maladministration - an issue brought to us by complainants - it is likely that evidence relevant to the complaints about maladministration will become available during the proceedings. Waiting for the court process to conclude will allow us to take such evidence into account if we do decide to investigate.

Once the judicial review judgment is available and we have had an opportunity to consider it, we will decide whether we can and should investigate. In the meantime, we will be taking no further action on the complaints we have received so far, or on any new complaints we receive, relating to these matters.

We will explain our next steps once legal proceedings have concluded and we have considered the judgment that is subsequently published.


Further information

PHSO makes final decisions on complaints that have not been resolved by the NHS in England and UK government departments, and some other UK public organisations. We do this independently and impartially. We are not part of government, the NHS in England or a regulator. We are neither a consumer champion nor an advocacy service. 

Members of the public can bring a complaint about the NHS to us directly. We can only consider cases relating to UK government departments and other public organisations if MPs refer these to us.

More information on our work, including how MPs can refer complaints to us about Government departments and agencies, is available on our information for MPs page. 

If you have further questions relating to the issues outlined here, please contact publicaffairs@ombudsman.org.uk