The Pensions Act 1995 legislated to equalise the State Pension age as a move towards gender equality. The Pensions Act 2011 included transitional arrangements limiting State Pension age delays. Parliament legislated for a concession worth £1.1 billion which means that no woman will see her pension age change by more than 18 months, relative to the original 1995 Act timetable. The Pensions Acts of 1995, 2007, and 2011 were all subject to public consultation and debate in Parliament and were all widely reported in the media. The changes in the 1995 legislation were communicated in leaflets, advertising campaigns, and individual letters. The up-to-date State Pension age was also provided to those who requested a Pension Statement.
In 2016 I met with local campaigners from Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) group who spoke to me about their experiences, and I raised their cases and complaints with the Government at that time.
In the 2019-2021 Judicial Review on changes to State Pension age, both the High Court and Court of Appeal supported the actions of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), finding it acted entirely lawfully and did not discriminate on any grounds. A copy of the judgment can be found here. In March 2021 the Supreme Court refused the Claimants' permission to appeal and while I understand it may be disappointing the Government confirmed it would not be reviewing the state pension age in response to the WASPI campaign.
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
The Ombudsman published a report on 20 July 2021 regarding a specific window of time – focused on 28 months of DWP decisions solely between 2004 and 2007, under the last Labour government. Its investigation is ongoing. The report concludes stage one of what could be a three-part investigation. They have stated on their website that they will now move onto stage two of their investigation and will consider whether the complainants suffered an injustice. If they find that there was an injustice that has not already been remedied, they will then proceed to the third stage of their investigation and consider recommendations to address that injustice but are limited to that specific window of time.
I await the next stages of this process, but it is important to stress that the ombudsman investigation is not a review of the entire State Pension increase from 1993-2011. As they state on their website, "a 2019 High Court decision underlined that we are not able to recommend DWP reimburse ‘lost’ pensions. Nor can we recommend that anyone receive their State Pension any earlier than the law allows.’"
Section 7(2) of the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967 says Ombudsman investigations “shall be conducted in private”, and it would be inappropriate for me to comment on a live Ombudsman’s investigation. The Department has been fully cooperating with the Ombudsman’s investigation and will continue to do so. Further details can be found on the PHSO website