WOMEN Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaigners have welcomed the findings of the Ombudsman for what they call the Government’s ‘maladministration’ and they have called for a fair and fast resolution.
The Coventry and Warwickshire WASPI group, along with others across the country, has campaigned for women born in the UK in the 1950s who have been affected by changes proposed by the 1995/2011 Pensions Act.
On Tuesday it was revealed the Ombudsman had ruled the Government was guilty of maladministration from 2004 onwards when it failed to contact 1950s born women in person to inform them of the changes to their State Pension Age.
The group’s own research found the majority of women did not know their State Pension Age had changed, despite a publicity campaign.
Teresa Bowers, co-ordinator from Coventry and Warwickshire WASPI group, said: “We are very pleased that, after a long and thorough investigation, the Ombudsman has found that maladministration took place when we were not properly notified of the changes to our State Pension Age.
“This is a very welcome step in the right direction.
“We hope the Ombudsman will now complete the next stage and decide that an injustice has taken place that deserves compensation.
“The Government will then have a moral duty to put things right.
“We are looking for a fair and fast solution.”
Over the past two years many women in Coventry and Warwickshire have lodged complaints with the help of WASPI members.
The Ombudsman’s final ruling will apply to all 1950s born women affected by the changes, not just those who have lodged a complaint.
Chris Reeve from North Warwickshire added: “I had no notice at all that my State Pension Age had changed.
“On the understanding that I would retire at 60 I took redundancy/early retirement in 2011.
“I was in a very stressful job and had suffered a TIA.
“I also had other health problems and decided to step down from management and find a less responsible position.
“I did this and then found out I would have to stay in work until I was 66.
“I was devastated my health continued to deteriorate and I was retired on ill health at 63 years old.
“As I was unable to claim my state pension, I had to claim ESA and face the extremely tiring and exhausting system of proving I was sick with assessments each year.
“The stress has made things worse and ruined my plans for retirement.”
Teresa Bowers from Coventry said “My husband was made redundant last July, and I was furloughed for four months, then on sick for six months.
“I’m now back at work on a zero hour contract with no work coming my way as yet.
“My husband is claiming Universal Credit and this is sending his mental health to the brink as we are having to take handouts. He had no notice of having to work an extra year either.
“I’m included on UC so I get my stamp paid but, as I have over one more year before I can claim my State Pension, this has had a massive effect on our lives”.