State Pension  

Ombudsman to review state pension age complaints

Ombudsman to review state pension age complaints

The Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman (PHSO) has selected six complaints about the state pension age that will act as lead cases to set a precedent for thousands of others.

The six cases were selected for a preliminary enquiry, which the PHSO said would determine whether or not to investigate the claims further.

The cases were brought to the Independent Case Examiner (ICE), the second stage in the Department for Work and Pensions's two-tier complaints process, by women unhappy about the recent increase to their state pension age.

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They are representative of thousands of grievances made about this issue to date.

The PHSO decided to step in and deal with this issue last November, as progress on handling the complaints proved slow.

As FTAdviser reported last week, only a dozen of these cases were accepted by the ICE in the last seven months, due to a backlog in the system.

Frances Martin and Rosina Pain-Tolin, two of the claimants that have been selected by the ombudsman, made their initial complaints to the DWP two and a half years ago.

They told FTAdviser the intention of the PHSO was to use a broad generic scope obtained from the six cases for the purpose of their investigation.

Ms Martin and Ms Pain-Tolin are members of BackTo60, a group that has been campaigning against inadequate communication of changes to the state pension age alongside the Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) group.

Both groups claim the hike of the state pension age for women to 65 – the same as men's – was implemented unfairly, with little or no personal notice, despite its inclusion in the 1995 Conservative government's Pension Act.

The groups also claim the changes were implemented faster than promised with the 2011 Pension Act and had left women with no time to make alternative plans, leading to devastating consequences.

BackTo60 has been granted an oral hearing at the High Court regarding this matter, as they seek to lodge a judicial review claim.

Ms Martin and Ms Pain-Tolin said an investigation by the PHSO would "set a precedent for the similar personal complaints that will eventually reach this stage".

Because of this they have launched a crowdfunding campaign to pay for legal counselling.

Ivan Walker, principal of Walkers Solicitors – who represented members of the Lloyds Bank pension schemes in the recent benefits equalisation court case - will be assisting the two claimants in providing "detailed and carefully considered responses" to the PHSO investigation.