Millions of Waspi women who lost out by state pension increase given sliver of hope

Jessica Beard
Campaigning group Backto60 has been granted the right to appeal the High Court's ruling - AFP

Women born in the Fifties affected by the rise in their state pension age from 60 to 65 have been given a sliver of hope after being granted approval to appeal a High Court ruling from last October.

Two women from the Backto60 campaign group took the Government to a judicial review, arguing the delay in receiving their state pension had disproportionately affected them. Until 2010, women were entitled to receive the state pension from the age of 60, but the government announced in 1995 that this would increase to the age of 65 to equalise the playing field with men. 

The two women argued that many others of their generation took time out of work to care for children which limited their earnings, meaning they had less opportunity to build up a healthy private pension.

The High Court judges decided they had not been discriminated against, and claimed the government's move was to “correct historic direct discrimination against men”.

But now the group has had a breakthrough in its fight by receiving the green light to contest the ruling in the Court of Appeal. 

Many of the complaints made by campaigners including group Backto60 and Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) have called for a reinstatement of the age of 60 for women’s state pension and for compensation of the amount they have missed out on since the ruling. 

Campaigners and complainants argue they did not have enough time to prepare for the change, which has left them worse off in retirement and that they have experienced financial loss with a negative impact on their health, emotional well-being or home life. They contend that the change has discriminated against 3.8 million people, leaving them £47,000 out of pocket in retirement. 

Separately, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) is set to begin investigating a sample of complaints from women affected, after sending out communications to them last week. 

The PHSO has been barred by the High Court ruling from recommending the reimbursement of these “lost” pensions, and nor can it advise in favour of a reversal of the Pensions Act legislation. However, it has been investigating to see if there has been an injustice as a result of maladministration, under which it could make recommendations to pay out compensation. 

The investigation differs from the judicial review in that not all the issues considered were taking into account as part of the review, including DWP’s and ICE’s complaint handling and the communication of changes to National Insurance. 

The ombudsman will look at whether the DWP conducted its communication of the changes to women’s state pension age wrongly or poorly, focusing on what the department should have done to better voice the changes.  

The most-affected women have been offered a free bus pass in County Durham, in a move that is intended to soften the blow of the state pension age increase.