State Pension  

Pensions minister says fixing Waspi would be 'unfair'

Pensions minister says fixing Waspi would be 'unfair'

Guy Opperman, the minister for pensions and financial inclusion, has warned that helping women affected by the government's increase in state pension age would "undermine the principle of intergenerational fairness".

In a debate yesterday (November 22) in Parliament about this issue, Mr Opperman said the coalition government and previous governments had given "careful consideration" to a range of options for transitional arrangements for these women, which were debated at great length on repeated occasions.

But making further changes would be unfair to others.

He said: "Any amendment to the current legislation that created a new inequality between men and women would unquestionably be highly dubious as a matter of law.

"Secondly, causing younger people to bear a greater share of the cost of the pension system in that way would be unfair and would undermine the principle of intergenerational fairness that is integral to our state pension reforms."

But Sharon Hodgson, Labour MP for Washington and Sunderland West, said the younger generation accepted "that it is different for the 1950s women".

She said: "We have to factor in the unfairness that the 1950s women face for all the reasons that have been set out: historical reasons such as paying a lower stamp, women not working as often as men, and spending time at home when they had children."

Mr Opperman said that the government have worked extensively "to engage with a significant amount of correspondence from women who have contacted them on this issue".

He said that there have been approximately 8,000 complaints on the topic and a "significant amount of resource has been dedicated to it".

Mr Opperman said the Independent Case Examiner had concluded ​investigations into approximately 185 women’s state pension cases to date, and "in every case there was no finding that the department had failed to provide appropriate notice of the changes".

He added: "The government believe there has been no maladministration within the DWP with regard to the communication of state pension age changes under this or previous governments."

Campaigning group such as the Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) and BackTo60 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.

Due to this, thousands of women from across the country have submitted, and continue to submit, complaints against the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) regarding what they call an inadequate communication of changes to the state pension age.

DWP has a two-tier process for formal complaints, which means once a complainant has exhausted the DWP process they are signposted to the Independent Case Examiner.

FTAdviser reported yesterday that the Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman (PHSO) has selected six complaints about the state pension age for a preliminary inquiry, which if investigated will act as lead cases to set a precedent for thousands of others.