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Women and State Pension; The Financial Hit

Women who were born in the 1950’s have had to take the financial hit that the government have raised their state pension age to 66 from 60. Women are challenging the decision at the High Court in a judicial review at present and the outcome is long awaited.

Currently state pension for women amounts to £168.60 per week; the difference that 6 years makes amounts to a total of £52,603.20. Thousands of women have complained about the decision itself along with the fact that little if any notice was given in the years leading up to the change in 2011. Unfortunately for those who are continuing to complain, the complaints will not be dealt with until after the judicial review has finalised.

The complaints coming in thick and fast represent the 2.6 million women who were given just 5 years notice of the extension to their pension age. The Women Against State Pension Inequality campaign agrees with ensuring that both men and women’s pension ages are the same but disagrees with how unfair the changes are. It also focusses quite heavily on the impact that the lack of communication to women the government gave upon reaching the decision to hike the pension age. For some women in the UK this has had a huge impact on their finances and plans for retirement.

The aforementioned judicial review that has now begun is a direct result of the works of a campaign group called Back to 60 led by Michael Mansfield QC. Within the High Court, arguments will be raised to suggest that raising the pension age for women is direct discrimination towards sex and age and that women were not properly made aware of the impact of the changes.

The whole aim of a judicial review is to consider whether a decision made by a public body was lawful of not. It has been reported that the Judges residing over the judicial review have reserved their judgment meaning that the outcome will not be made public for quite some time.

The ruling of the case is of course unknown at the moment. But many women have lodged ‘formal protests about maladministration’ and are furious that changes to the state pension were made with little notice and that complaints are currently on hold until after the ruling of the judicial review. The complaint process is quite lengthy; first writing to the Department for Work and Pensions, then the Independent Case Examiner’s Office and then finally to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

It is important to note from a legal perspective that the court cannot make judgment surrounding the maladministration during the ruling of the judicial review as this is something that can only be dealt with by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

It is likely that once the ruling has been made public, there will be a period whereby the Department for Work and Pensions and the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman will consider the next steps and how to proceed before any action is taken.

The government has made no noise surrounding the complaints or the judicial review itself. It has simply suggested that it ‘needs to raise the age at which all of us can draw a state pension so it is sustainable now and for future generations’.

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