I have been contacted in the past by many constituents about the changes to the State Pension age. I am very much aware of this issue and subsequent campaigns and legal action through the last few years. This issue has been acknowledged many times.
I am aware that on the 21 March 2024, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman published its report into State Pension age communications. The Government will now consider the Ombudsman’s report and respond in due course, having cooperated fully throughout the investigation. The Ombudsman has referred the matter to Parliament and the Government will carefully consider the findings before responding formally and will cooperate fully with parliamentary processes.
In terms of background, in 1995, the Government decided the State Pension age for men and women would be equalised in a long overdue move towards gender equality, with changes happening gradually from 2010. After legal challenge around the communication of changes to the State Pension Age, both the High Court and Court of Appeal found no fault in the actions of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), under successive governments dating back to 1995. They found DWP acted entirely lawfully and did not discriminate on any grounds. The Government’s State Pension reforms have put measures in place to improve State Pension outcomes for women.
The 1995 Pensions Act and subsequent legislation raised the State Pension age for women born on or after 6 April 1950, addressing the long-standing inequality between men and women. No women saw their State Pension age change until 2010 at the earliest, 15 years after the legislation was passed. Since the PHSO launched its inquiry into the communication of changes to the State Pension Age, the DWP has cooperated fully. As the Chief Executive of the Ombudsman herself has set out, the DWP has always fully co-operated with the Ombudsman and their investigation, providing a huge volume of evidence for their review. The courts found that under successive governments dating back to 1995, the DWP acted entirely lawfully and did not discriminate on any grounds.
The PHSO report into the communications of the change in State Pension age is now complete and has been published. Following the PHSO’s report in 2022 that concluded that maladministration under the last Labour Government between 2005-07 had caused injustice, their report into the DWP’s communication of the changes is now complete. The report states that the Ombudsman did not find the changes resulted in women suffering direct financial loss.
Women retiring today can expect to receive the State Pension for over 21 years on average – over two years longer than men. If equalisation had not taken place, upon reaching the age of 60, they would be expected to spend (on average) over 40 per cent of their adult lives in receipt of State Pension. Over three million women stand to receive an average of £570 more per year by 2030 as a result of them, protecting incomes and providing dignity in retirement. The weekly amounts received by men and women are set to be even by the 2040s – a decade earlier than the previous system.
I will continue to monitor this issue closely and note the concerns of many of my constituents who have contacted me in the past about this.