Millions of women born in the 1950s and affected by the rises to the State Pension age could be in line for thousands of pounds in compensation for historic “injustices”, an MP said.

Alan Brown, MP for Kilmarnock and Loudoun, has called on the government to give compensation payouts of £10,000 to women affected by the issue, many of whom saw their retirement plans dashed after they discovered they wouldn’t get their State Pensions for several years later than expected.

This comes as the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) nears the end of its investigation into how changes to women’s State Pension age were communicated.

Since 2018, the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaign has been pursuing redress from the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO), on the basis that changes to the women’s State Pension age were not properly communicated in advance to the nearly 4m women affected.

MP Brown said: “Like so many injustices created by Westminster, the lack of resolution for the 3.8mn women is a disgrace.

“These women were given the bombshell that their State Pension age was going to increase from 60 to 66 just as they were about to retire and it was too late to do any proper financial planning.”

Following a years-long investigation, the final PHSO report is due to be published this year, with any recommendations – including financial compensation – to be applied to anyone affected by the DWP’s “maladministration”, not just those that made a complaint.

Based on the PHSO’s compensation scale, Brown argued that the women affected should be entitled to a level 5 payout at the very least (£3,000-£9,950), but made the case for a level 6 payout as the “most appropriate”. This would mean compensation of at least £10,000 being offered to each of those affected.

According to the Ombudsman, an injustice is considered level 6 if it involves “profound, devastating or irreversible impacts on the person affected. This includes circumstances where the individual may be affected permanently, or where recovery is likely to take several years, and cases involving avoidable death”.

Speaking in the commons, Brown said: “The purpose of this Bill is to bring forward parliamentary intervention to stop those affected women having to wait any longer.”

Angela Madden, Chair of the Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaign, has backed the bill. She said: “The Government has shown it can act to end long-running injustices within a matter of weeks as seen with the Post Office scandal. WASPI women must finally be awarded the same dignity with swift action.”

The State Pension Age (Compensation) Bill has been backed by 12 MPs so far, and will have its second reading in April.

If you’re considering getting professional financial advice, Unbiased is offering Rest Less members a free pension review. It’s a chance to have a qualified independent financial advisor (IFA) take a look at your pension arrangements and give an unbiased assessment of your retirement savings.

The review is free and without obligation, but if the IFA feels you’d benefit from paid financial advice, they’ll go over how that works and the charges involved.

What is the WASPI campaign?

The government first announced that the State Pension age for women would rise in 1995, but many women claim they were left in the dark over the controversial reforms, designed to bring the qualifying age for women in line with that of men by 2020.

The rise in the State Pension age for women from 60 to 65 was further revised in the 2011 Pensions Act, bringing forward the endpoint to 2018. Over the next two years up to November 2020, there was a further rise to 66.

Many women born in the 1950s – in other words, those who turned 60 in the 2010s – who expected to be able to retire at this age felt blindsided by the changes, and say that they were not informed. Many had left work, taken up caring responsibilities or otherwise made plans on the assumption that they would be able to claim the State Pension from age 60.

The Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) campaign was formed to pursue redress for this failure of communication. The group has made it clear that while they support the equalising of State Pension ages, they object to the lack of transparency about this change.

The PHSO found in 2021 that the DWP had failed to do enough to communicate the changes, deeming their actions “maladministration”. The Ombudsman said that letters about the changes should have been sent to women affected from December 2006, so that everyone would be informed by 2009 at the latest.

Brown said: “These women were given the bombshell that their state pension age was going to increase from 60 to 66 just as they were about to retire and it was too late to do any proper financial planning.”

Though the Ombudsman’s final report was originally scheduled for publication in March 2023, this was delayed by a judicial review funded by the WASPI campaign. This looked at the Stage 2 report of the investigation, with the campaign arguing that the findings were “seriously mistaken”. The claim was settled last year and the Stage 2 report was “quashed” and restarted.

Since then, Stages 2 (“injustice”) and 3 (“redress”) of the investigation have both been completed, and a confidential draft of the report has been sent out. The final version is due for publication later this year after feedback has been given.

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The gender pension gap

Despite significant progress in closing the gender pay gap over recent years, millions of women are still on course to end up with much less in their pensions than men. Read more in our guide Women and the gender pension gap.

According to research by the Pensions Policy Institute in 2019, women in their 60s will on average retire with £51,000 of savings, compared to men who on average will retire with £157,000 of savings.

Separate research by Scottish Widows found that women typically don’t claim their fair share of pension savings following a divorce. Seven in 10 couples don’t consider pensions during divorce proceedings, the insurer found, leaving women short-changed by £5 billion every year. Read more in our guide How are pensions shared in divorce.

Further help

If you’re not sure when you’ll receive your State Pension, you can use the government’s State Pension age calculator here. To find out more about the State Pension, read our article on How the State Pension works.

If you have been affected by the changes to the women’s State Pension age and are seeking work, you can search for jobs in your local area here. You can also find information on benefits which might help you bridge the financial gap if you’re struggling to make ends meet or you have caring responsibilities in our Government benefits section.

If you’re not sure whether you qualify, or don’t know how to start your claim, see our article on Five free sources of help if you’re making a benefits claim. If you need additional support, it may be worth exploring whether you’re eligible for charitable assistance. Find out more about charities that help women in need.

If you’re considering getting professional financial advice, Unbiased is offering Rest Less members a free pension review. It’s a chance to have a qualified independent financial advisor (IFA) take a look at your pension arrangements and give an unbiased assessment of your retirement savings.

The review is free and without obligation, but if the IFA feels you’d benefit from paid financial advice, they’ll go over how that works and the charges involved.

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