State Pension  

Ombudsman halts state pension age complaints

Ombudsman halts state pension age complaints

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) has suspended its consideration of complaints about the controversial state pension age rise for women due to an upcoming judicial review.

PHSO had selected six complaints to act as lead cases to set a precedent for thousands of others.

But a spokesperson at the PHSO said yesterday (December 19) it would not be "practical or proportionate" for the ombudsman to investigate "while similar issues are being considered by the court".

On November 30, it was revealed that campaigning group Backto60 had been granted permission to file a judicial review at the Royal Courts of Justice.

A judicial review is a court proceeding in which a judge considers the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body. It can't be filed directly; the court needs to be asked for permission first.

The spokesperson said: "We will await the outcome of court proceedings before we decide whether we can and should investigate.

"We will take no further action on the complaints we have received so far, or on any new complaints we receive, until the court proceedings have concluded and we have considered the outcome of the judicial review."

Ivan Walker, principal of Walker Solicitors, who advises Frances Martin and Rosina Pain-Tolin, two of the claimants which had their cases selected by the ombudsman after raising £7,791 through crowdfunding, said the "maladministration route should remain operative" irrespective of the judicial review.

Ms Martin and Ms Pain-Tolin are members of BackTo60, which is requesting the state pension age should be returned to 60 for women born in the 1950s.

The measure would cost an estimated £77bn, which is why it has previously been dismissed by the government.

Backto60 and the Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) group claim when the 1995 Conservative government's Pension Act included plans to increase the women's state pension age to 65 – the same as men's – the changes were implemented unfairly, with little or no personal notice.

The movements 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.

FTAdviser reported earlier this month that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Independent Case Examiner’s (ICE) office had closed the complaints received on this matter, also due to the judicial review.