The Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) Independent Case Examiner’s (ICE) Office has closed a total 2,506 complaints regarding changes to women’s state pension age, mostly due to the upcoming judicial review.
In a written answer to Parliament this week, Guy Opperman, minister for pension and financial inclusion, revealed the ICE started received the first complaints from women relating to changes in their state pension age in October 2016 – reaching a total of 4,296 by December 13, 2018.
From these, 192 were resolved and 1,598 were rejected, as they failed to meet the ICE criteria.
The remaining 2,506 were closed for other reasons – either due to a withdrawal of the complaint or due to the High Court decision to grant permission for a judicial review of the department's handling of the change to women’s state pension age.
Mr Opperman confirmed that it is not within the ICE remit to consider “issues which are, or have been, subject to legal proceedings,” as FTAdviser reported earlier this month.
In the meantime, independent Labour MP Frank Field, chairman of the Work & Pensions select committee, wrote to Mr Opperman questioning him about the closure of cases by the ICE, and the rationale behind this decision.
Mr Opperman, however, failed to reply to Mr Field within the requested time frame.
The Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) has a two-tier process for formal complaints, which means once a complainant has exhausted the DWP process they are signposted to the ICE.
The ICE has been handling complaints about the increase of the women's state pension age to 65, which led to the creation of the Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) and Backto60 campaigns.
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.
Backto60 and the Waspi claim that while 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.