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

The High Court recently concluded a judicial review looking into how changes to women’s State Pension age were implemented, including how they were communicated. 

The judgment of the judicial review heard on 5 and 6 June 2019 was issued on 3 October 2019. We are considering the High Court ruling before deciding whether to investigate complaints we have received about similar issues.

In October 2018, we issued a proposal to investigate a sample of complaints brought to us about the Department of 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. 

The judicial review has now concluded. We need to take time to consider:

  • the judgment made
  • the reasons for reaching the judgment
  • the evidence presented to the High 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. For example, women complained to us about maladministration in the way DWP communicated changes to State Pension age for women. One of the issues the High Court looked at was whether there was a failure to inform women of changes to State Pension age.

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.

We carefully considered the impact of the judicial review on our proposed investigation. We took 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. Now that the High Court has made a ruling, we will need to take time to consider it before deciding whether to investigate.

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

The High Court cannot make decisions about maladministration but 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 the High Court ruling has been issued, we will need to take some time to consider it before we decide whether to investigate.

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 now you have seen the High Court ruling?

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.

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. We need to take time to consider the judgment, before deciding whether to investigate. We will make a decision as quickly as we can once we have considered the High Court ruling. 

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

You can find more information about the High Court ruling here.

We have information for MPs about our approach.