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Could the state pension age hike be reversed?
I’m one of the three million women affected by unfair increases in the state pension age and have had to delay retirement by four years because I simply couldn’t afford to stop working. Given the Government has now been found guilty of maladministration, surely the women affected will now need to be compensated?
Tom Selby, AJ Bell Senior Analyst says:
Today men and women in the UK have the same state pension age of 66. This has not always been the case, however.
Prior to 2010, women received their state pension from age 60, while men had to wait until age 65. The 1995 Pensions Act first put forward proposals to increase the women’s state pension age to 65 – bringing it into line with men – between 2010 and 2020.
The 2011 Pensions Act accelerated this timetable, meaning state pension ages were equalised at age 65 in 2018 before increasing to age 66 by 2020.
From here, plans are in place to increase the state pension age to 67 by 2028 and 68 by 2046 (although the Government has previously indicated this could be brought forward to 2039).
Campaigners have long argued the changes introduced under the 1995 and 2011 Pensions Acts were unfair to women born in the 1950s, with some forced to wait six years longer than expected to receive their state pension.
One of the central charges was that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) failed to adequately notify affected women so they could adjust their retirement plans.
This case was considered recently by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO), which investigated complaints that since 1995 the DWP had failed to provide ‘accurate, adequate and timely information about changes to the state pension age for women’.
The Ombudsman concluded that the DWP did not adequately respond to research in 2004 which recommended information should be ’appropriately targeted‘ at those affected by the reforms. As a result, it found maladministration had occurred.
While the Ombudsman’s finding may feel like vindication to the so-called ‘WASPI’ (Women Against State Pension Increases) campaigners, it has no power to compel the Government to provide compensation or redress.
In 2019 the High Court heard arguments that the state pension age increase discriminated on the ground of age and/or sex and sought a judicial review of the Government’s ‘alleged failure to inform them of the changes’.
The Court dismissed the claim on all three counts, and an appeal to the Court of Appeal in 2020 was also thrown out.
The Government has previously said putting men’s and women’s state pension ages back to 60 could cost £215 billion. Given the impact coronavirus has had on the UK’s finances, it seems extremely unlikely the Government will cough up this amount of money – or anything at all for that matter – if it is not compelled to.
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