State Pension  

Labour MP demands apology over SPA communication

Labour MP demands apology over SPA communication

A Labour MP has demanded the government apologise and provide compensation to women affected by the state pension age changes, after its failings in communication were confirmed by the ombudsman. 

Mary Kelly Foy, MP for the City of Durham, has written to Therese Coffey, secretary of state for work and pensions, demanding women affected by changes to the state pension age receive a full apology from the government, as well as “full and proper” financial compensation.

It comes after the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman found there were failings in the way the Department for Work and Pensions communicated changes to the women’s state pension age.

In the letter, sent yesterday (August 3), Foy said there were about 5,600 women in the City of Durham constituency who have been impacted by the changes which were not adequately communicated by the DWP.

Foy said: “Not only have many of these women lost out on thousands of pounds, they are struggling to find employment, are financially dependent on their husbands or partners, and are navigating a complicated welfare benefit system.

“The financial situation for many of these women has been made worse as a result of the pandemic, especially for women whose jobs are in the hospitality and domestic sectors.

“These women have endured years of mental anguish brought about by the now proven failings of your department”.

In its report, published last month, the PHSO said the DWP had communicated adequately the planned female pension age rises between 1995, when the change was first legislated for, and 2004.

But it had failed to act promptly after analysis in 2004 found the government's information campaign was not reaching the “people who needed it”, and recommended a targeted approach.

The PHSO is now considering the impact of the failings, and what action should be taken to address them.

Campaign groups BackTo60 and the Women Against State Pension Inequality have claimed over the years that when the 1995 Conservative government’s Pensions Act included plans to raise the women’s state pension age to 65 — the same as men’s — the changes were implemented unfairly, with little or no personal notice.

In response to the PHSO report, a DWP spokesperson said at the time: “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.”

amy.austin@ft.com

What do you think about the issues raised by this story? Email us on FTAletters@ft.com to let us know