New update on calls for State Pension public inquiry into retirement age changes for 1950s-born women

An online petition calling for a public inquiry to be held into changes made to the State Pension age for women born in the 1950s has passed the 10,000 signature threshold and is now entitled to a written response from the UK Government.

Petition creator Kay Clarke argues that increases to the State Pension age have left many women in “financial and mental despair” and believes that an inquiry “is necessary to expose the truth”. The founding member of the WOW (1950s Women of Wales and beyond group has posted the ‘Hold a Public Inquiry into State Pension age changes for women’ petition on the petitions-parliament website.

It states: “We request a Public Inquiry into their State Pension age changes for women, which we believe have left many in a state of financial and mental despair. We believe the Government has had little or no consideration of the circumstances, historic inequality, mental health and wellbeing of 1950s women.”

It continues: “We believe that women affected by these changes were given inadequate notice that they would have to wait in some cases a further six years to receive the State Pension. We believe a Public Inquiry is necessary to expose the truth.”

After a six-year investigation, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) published its final report on March 21 which said that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) failed to adequately communicate changes to women’s State Pension age, and those affected are owed compensation.

As a result of its findings, the Ombudsman has asked Parliament to intervene and “act swiftly” to make sure a compensation scheme is established.

The Ombudsman’s report has suggested compensation at level four, ranging between £1,000 and £2,950, could be appropriate for each of those affected.

However, this is a lower range than the £10,000 figure - level six of the PHSO remedy scale - previously suggested by the State Pension Inequality For Women All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) and the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaign.

The Ombudsman has asked Parliament to identify a mechanism for providing appropriate remedy for those who have suffered injustice. The report said: “We think this will provide the quickest route to remedy for those who have suffered injustice because of DWP’s maladministration.”

The ombudsman has also said that, in addition to paying compensation, the DWP should acknowledge its failings and apologise.

Following the publication of the report, the Ombudsman said the DWP has not acknowledged its failings nor put things right for those affected. Its investigation found that thousands of women born in the 1950s may have been affected.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Mel Stride MP recently said he will return to the House of Commons “when there is something to say” about a decision on whether women born in the 1950s affected by changes to the State Pension age should receive compensation.

During a backbench debate on the PHSO report on Women’s State Pension age in Parliament on Thursday, it was said that women born in the 1950s suffered a “gross injustice” and a compensation scheme should be established urgently - preferably before the summer recess starts on July 23.

Opening the debate, SNP MP Patricia Gibson said: “Although I’m disappointed there will be no vote on this matter today, there is nothing, nothing at all to prevent the Government from bringing such a vote forward in Government time.

“Indeed, the Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman has invited the House to express a view through laying its report before Parliament.”

The North Ayrshire and Arran MP added that the Ombudsman’s report makes it “very clear” that women were not informed appropriately and the DWP was “negligent”.

Some 21 MPs took part in the debate which lasted nearly three hours.