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'Damning' report blasts women's pensions failure

By Alan Beresford

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THE Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) were too slow to communicate significant changes to the state pension age, an investigation has found.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) has published its ruling regarding the treatment of 1950s born women by the DWP, stating that the rise is pension age for women to the same as that of men was not properly highlighted to those affected.

It meant that just under 3.8 million women across the UK found they would have to wait longer for their pension. Previously, the age at which women could claim their pension was 60 – it now stands at 66 for both men and women.

The Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) organisation have been campaigning for compensation.

The ruling was welcomed by Banffshire and Buchan Coast SNP MSP Karen Adam.

She said: “This is huge news for the WASPI women and massively damning for the UK government.

"[The] ombudsman report has declared maladministration and failure by the Department of Work and Pensions to inform 1950s born women of the change in state pension age in a timely manner.

“This report has given recognition to the injustice the WASPI women have endured, that injustice needs to be rectified by the UK government in giving these women what they are owed.

“I met with Olive from the campaign group just a few months ago where I pledged to support the WASPI women wherever I could. I hope now real action will be taken off the back of the ombudsman report being published.”

Moray Conservative MSP Douglas Ross described the ruling as "significant".

“This is a significant ruling by the PHSO and confirms what many of us have suspected all along," he continued.

"In a number of Parliamentary debates on this subject I have highlighted the poor, or non-existent, communication to the women affected, and this report confirms that.

“I have now written to the Minister responsible and lodged a question to the department which I hope will be selected in the first week back at Westminster after recess.

“The government must respond to this report and address the situation that too many people here in Moray and across the country have found themselves in as a result of change.”

A DWP spokesperson added: “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.

“In a move towards gender equality, it was decided more than 25 years ago to make the state pension age the same for men and women.”

The PHSO does not have the power to order that compensation must be paid.

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