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.
Women say they have experienced financial loss and a negative impact on their health, emotional well-being or home life as a result. They have also raised concerns about how the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Independent Case Examiner (ICE) have handled their complaints.
When we reviewed the complaints brought to us about DWP and ICE we found that they shared similar issues. Earlier this year, we issued a proposal to investigate a sample of complaints that reflect the issues raised.
We have since been made aware that the High Court will be considering similar issues to our proposed investigation in a judicial review.
It would not be practical or proportionate for us to investigate while similar issues are being considered by the Court.
We will therefore await the outcome of Court proceedings before we decide whether we can and should investigate. We expect the hearing to take place in the first half of next year.
We will continue to accept complaints referred to us by MPs. However, we will take no further action on the complaints we have received or on any new complaints until we have considered the outcome of the Court proceedings.
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 HMRC website.
How do I make a complaint?
We can only look at complaints about UK government departments if a Member of Parliament (MP) refers the complaint to us. Read more about how to make a complaint about a government department.
ICE is no longer accepting complaints so I cannot complete the complaints process with them. What do I do?
We can consider a complaint where the complaints process of the organisation complained about has been completed or isn’t available, for example, where ICE is not able to look at the complaint because of the Court proceedings. However, we will take no further action on the complaints we have received or on any new complaints until the Court proceedings have concluded and we have considered the outcome.
Are the issues that the Court is looking at and the Ombudsman proposed to investigate the same?
The High Court will consider similar issues to those we outlined in our proposal to investigate. Not all the issues we propose to investigate will be considered as part of the judicial review. This includes complaints about the way DWP and ICE have handled complaints and complaints about the way changes to National Insurance were communicated. Therefore, we will wait until the court proceedings have concluded before we decide what to do with these complaints.
Will the Court look at maladministration?
The High Court cannot make decisions about maladministration, an issue raised in complaints we have received. However, it is likely that relevant evidence will become available during the proceedings that we would need to take into account in any decisions we make about maladministration. Additionally, it would not be practical or proportionate for us to investigate maladministration separately while related issues are being considered by the Court. Therefore, we will wait until the court proceedings have concluded before we decide what to do with these complaints.