Fair State Pensions for WASPI women

by Women Against State Pension Inequality Ltd

Fair State Pensions for WASPI women

by Women Against State Pension Inequality Ltd
Women Against State Pension Inequality are raising funds for legal action to secure a better deal for 1950s born women unfairly affected by State Pension Age changes in the 1995 & 2011 Pensions Acts
Funded
on 19th October 2016
£100,010
pledged by 4296 people
Women Against State Pension Inequality are raising funds for legal action to secure a better deal for 1950s born women unfairly affected by State Pension Age changes in the 1995 & 2011 Pensions Acts

Parliamentary Ombudsman intervenes in maladministration complaints

Nov. 29, 2017

WASPI is delighted to update its donors on significant progress relating to the legal campaign.

The Parliamentary Ombudsman has intervened to improve the process of investigating our Maladministration Complaints:

As you all know, thousands of women across the country have submitted, and continue to submit their complaints to the Independent Case Examiner (ICE).

We’ve previously communicated ...

Read More >>

Women Against State Pension Age Inequality Ltd is a campaign group that is fighting the injustice done to women born in the 1950s (on or after 6 April 1951) by dramatic changes to their State Pension Age.  WASPI has campaigned extensively to get the government to accept that they need to take action to rectify the wrongs done to these women, but to date the Government has refused to do so.  

As a result, WASPI now needs to explore the opportunities for one or more legal challenges.  It is being advised by top London law firm Bindmans, who consider that there are important legal rights at stake.  The most appropriate means of protecting those rights requires careful consideration and for this reason we are launching a new CrowdJustice appeal to raise funds to get the best advice from a QC and prepare materials to assist with maladministration complaints. 

Impact of the changes

Incremental changes to the State Pension Age made by Government between 1995 and 2011 affect around 2.5 million women, many of whom are only now becoming aware of and properly understanding the impact of the changes.  In particular, many women’s State Pension Age has been delayed by up to six years, causing them financial hardship and distress, with a loss of up to £40,000.  Many women expected to retire at 60, and were dismayed to find out only when they were 58 or 59 that they had to wait up to another six years for their pension.  

There are many examples on www.waspi.co.uk of how the dramatic failure to communicate and engage with women has impacted on women's lives, leaving some in real poverty, relying on food banks and the generosity of others to eat.  Others are being forced to watch their carefully saved retirement nest egg dwindle away whilst they wait for their pension and then face the prospect of a seriously underfunded retirement with no savings to rely on in an emergency.  

The changes were made to equalise men's and women's pension ages.  WASPI supports this goal.  It is simply fighting for recognition and recompense for the unfair and discriminatory way the changes were implemented – with wholly inadequate engagement and with no proper time given to make alternative plans.

Potential legal challenges

WASPI has identified two potential means of legal redress for women affected by the changes to the State Pension Age: 

  • a judicial review challenge (or challenges) to the legality of the changes themselves; and
  • maladministration complaints regarding the wholly inadequate engagement undertaken by the Department of Work and Pensions regarding these changes.   

Any potential judicial review challenges are not straightforward and carefully considered legal advice is required to determine the most appropriate manner to bring such challenges to the benefit of the widest group of 1950s women possible.  Once such advice has been obtained, WASPI and its legal team will be in a position to take appropriate challenges forward to achieve justice for WASPI women. 

Bindmans also wish to support WASPI women to bring maladministration complaints to the DWP and, if necessary, ultimately to the Parliamentary Ombudsman.  The Parliamentary Ombudsman has investigated similar issues previously and has recommended that significant compensation is paid as a result of serious maladministration in respect of pensions.  WASPI therefore intends to work with its legal team to prepare materials to support such women in the making of those complaints with a view to maximizing the prospects of obtaining appropriate compensation.  

Our initial target will allow us to take advice on judicial review in parallel with preparing materials to assist with maladministration complaints.  Our stretch target will provide the start of funding for us to engage in legal correspondence with the DWP and pursue the legal challenges identified through the legal advice we intend to obtain.  We are likely to need to seek further funds to pursue a case to its conclusion, if we cannot resolve matters with the DWP before then.

Keeping you updated

WASPI will keep you informed regularly of the progress of both the CrowdJustice fundraising and the legal steps it is taking. It will also make sure there are updates from the legal team for those who want more detail as far as that is possible within the restrictions of confidentiality and legal professional privilege.  

WASPI will also make the materials it prepares to support maladministration complaints publicly available.  If and when legal claims are brought, WASPI will ensure that its legal arguments are published and will press the Government to make its arguments public too.

WASPI’s legal team

Bindmans LLP - a leading London law firm is representing us. Jamie Potter is leading the Bindmans' team with the support of John Halford and Selman Ansari. 

We are in the process of identifying leading barristers on public law and discrimination.  We will update this site once those arrangements have been confirmed. 

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Parliamentary Ombudsman intervenes in maladministration complaints

Nov. 29, 2017

WASPI is delighted to update its donors on significant progress relating to the legal campaign.

The Parliamentary Ombudsman has intervened to improve the process of investigating our Maladministration Complaints:

As you all know, thousands of women across the country have submitted, and continue to submit their complaints to the Independent Case Examiner (ICE).

We’ve previously communicated that WASPI via Bindmans have asked repeatedly for the ICE to streamline its complaint investigation process and offered to assist in doing so.  

In correspondence with the ICE Bindmans have raised several key concerns and suggested a better and more efficient way would be to manage with representative samples to fast track our complaints through the system and on to the Parliamentary Ombudsman. The ICE forthrightly declined our “offer of help” and decided to plough on by installing a new dedicated team and investigating every single complaint. They also said they would not speak to Bindmans again.

Bindmans have however continued to engage constructively with the Ombudsman as to how to deal with complaints fairly and efficiently.   WASPI have also continued to ensure that mess ups and delays with complaints handling have been escalated.

The Parliamentary Ombudsman has now intervened and instructed the ICE to improve the process along the lines put to them by Bindmans.

Jamie Potter, Partner, Bindmans LLP said:

“Bindmans, acting on behalf of WASPI, has asked repeatedly for the ICE to streamline its complaints investigation process and offered to assist it in doing so. Those requests have previously been refused. However, Bindmans has also engaged with the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman regarding the issue, and we are pleased to advise that following intervention by the Ombudsman, the ICE has now agreed to investigate a representative sample of complaints with view to establishing whether there was maladministration and how any such maladministration should be addressed. It is unfortunate that the ICE did not take up this suggestion when first put to them in April of this year, and that WASPI women have accordingly suffered further unnecessary delay; however, WASPI welcomes this development. With further support from the legal team at Bindmans, we will be working to assist the ICE in identifying an appropriate representative sample and to more efficiently progress complaints.”

WASPI Legal Director Susan Beevers commented:

We are pleased that the efforts of our legal team have helped to bring about this significant development.   Women who are already disadvantaged and distressed by what’s happened to them were being frustrated by an inefficient and lengthy process when they got to the Independent Examiner Stage.   

 We will now be working with our Local Group Coordinators and members to identify those representative samples and seek agreement from those women to provide the documentation  in respect of those who will be considered to be part of the representative sample”

Latest news from WASPI and Bindmans

June 13, 2017

Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) are experiencing a level of frustration and, for some women, serious anguish because of the standard responses from the DWP (if indeed one is received).

WASPI Legal Director Susan Beevers commented: “This is compounded because those women at Stage 4 of the DWP complaints process are being advised to respond to their Case Manager within 10 days. As you’ll appreciate that in itself causes a problem for many women.    This is all the more frustrating because in the same letter where we’re being asked to respond quickly, we’re also advised that the ICE is only now looking at cases that got to her in April and May 2016 – a year’s backlog!

“On 8th March Bindmans also wrote on our behalf to the Secretary of State via formal legal correspondence to the Government to call for concrete action.  We received no reply and having chased several times for a response we at last received an email on 8th June apologising for the delay and saying we won’t get a reply till after the election. We are being treated with contempt and a lack of respect for the difficult circumstances many women are in.”

WASPI’s legal representatives continue to chase the DWP for a response and have called on the Independent Case Examiner (ICE) to extend the time limits for women to respond to the Case Manager, to share the details of the first test case with Bindmans and to expand the number of test cases that are being investigated.  They have received an assurance from the Parliamentary Ombudsman that delays by the ICE will not compromise the time limits for complaint.

Jamie Potter, Partner in Bindmans' Public Law and Human Rights department said: “The ICE’s refusal to date to investigate a range of test cases is of serious concern.  In the context of the number of women affected, we are only aware of a sample of different experiences.  However, what is clear from this small sample, is that the maladministration experienced by women affected by changes to state pension age is extremely varied: from those that received misinformation to those that received no information and everything in between.  The differential impact on those women is perhaps even more wide-ranging.  It is entirely unclear how the findings of one case could therefore be fairly generalised across other complainants.  We continue to hope that ICE will agree to expand the scope of its initial investigation and are corresponding with her accordingly.”

 

WASPI calls on the Government to correct historic pensions injustice

March 9, 2017

WASPI calls on the Government to correct historic pensions injustices

To coincide with International Women's Day, Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) are today (8 March 2017) writing to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to seek redress for the injustice suffered by women born in the 1950s resulting from the substantial changes to state pension arrangements that were not properly communicated.

The letter, sent by Bindmans on behalf of WASPI, puts forward a number of proposals that seek to mitigate the impact of those changes.

Jamie Potter, Partner in Bindmans' Public Law and Human Rights department said:

"For too long the women of WASPI have patiently and courteously sought to engage with the Government to obtain redress for the very serious injustices brought about by successive governments' failure properly to communicate the changes to the state pension age.


Those calls have, unfortunately, fallen upon deaf ears. Our clients have therefore been forced to send formal legal correspondence to the Government to call for concrete action. If the Government refuses to consider these proposals, our clients will have no alternative but to consider all available legal and other options."


WASPI launches two Guides to assist women in their complaint against DWP’s changes to state pension age.

Feb. 6, 2017

WASPI launches two Guides to assist women in their complaint against DWP’s changes to state pension age.

Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) today formally launched two Guides to assist women through the latter stages of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) complaints process regarding the maladministration that has been associated with the increase in women’s state pension ages over the past 24 years. The Guides were prepared in conjunction with Bindmans LLP.

The “Guide to DWP Complaints – Stages 3 and 4” explains the process for making a complaint and the matters women should take into account when pursuing their complaints in light of many of the responses received from the DWP to date. It includes template letters to assist women in the preparation of their communications with the DWP.

The “Guide to Maladministration” explains the history of this matter and the nature of the maladministration associated with the pension age increases.

Both guides can be found at www.waspi.co.uk/action 

Jamie Potter, Partner in Bindmans’ Public Law and Human Rights department said:

“It is disappointing that, to date, the DWP has failed to acknowledge that there has been serious maladministration on the part of the DWP in failing properly to communicate the significant changes that have been made to women’s state pension ages, which particularly affect women born in the 1950s. The DWP were repeatedly told that by their own surveys that substantial numbers of women were unaware of these changes despite their imminent implementation, yet failed to take any effective action to correct the situation until it was too late. Even when the DWP did begin to send personal letters drawing women’s attention to the changes, some 14 years after they had been made, they have admitted they failed to check whether the addresses they were using were up-to-date and did nothing to find women whose letters were returned to sender.

WASPI is calling on the DWP to recognise and take action to rectify the significant wrong done to women, who have been discriminated against in their working lives because of their gender, and who have now been denied the opportunity to make decisions about their retirement in full knowledge of their state pension age. In the absence of such recognition and action, WASPI women will have no choice but to seek a full investigation by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.”

Latest update

Jan. 1, 2017

Thank you for your support for WASPI.  We can now tell you more about where we are in our legal challenge.  Things have taken a frustratingly long time, with the delays not of our making, but we and Bindmans continue to do everything we can to ensure that we progress as quickly as the legal system allows and to ensure that we get the best possible outcome for all WASPI women.

Maladministration claims and the ICE

You may have seen reported on Twitter or elsewhere that the Independent Case Examiner (ICE) has rejected the first WASPI complaint she investigated. This was not unexpected, and it now allows the complaint to go forward to the Parliamentary Ombudsman as we intended.

Our legal team considers the ICE’s investigation and response to the first complaint to be wholly inadequate. 

WASPI had also repeatedly asked the ICE to investigate a representative sample of complainants to ensure all relevant issues were addressed.  The ICE, however, repeatedly refused and instead investigated one arbitrarily selected complaint.  It is therefore unsurprising that the first investigation leaves many issues unaddressed.  Although there may be similarities, no two women’s circumstances are the same.  Accordingly, even on the ICE’s own analysis (which WASPI considers fundamentally flawed), it cannot be assumed that other women’s complaints will not be upheld.  

If the ICE will not agree to quickly investigate a representative sample, WASPI will seek to take these matters directly to the Ombudsman to reduce delay.

Women who have made complaints to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will have been told that the DWP now has received so many letters of complaint that they have found it necessary to set up a separate unit to deal exclusively with them.

Correspondence with the DWP

We have also finally received a response, almost four months later, to our letter to the DWP seeking reasonable and appropriate reparations for the harm done by the DWP’s failure properly to communicate the changes.  Unsurprisingly, the DWP has rejected our suggestions and has refused to accept their own failures.

WASPI will continue to engage with the DWP and we still have the option to bring about a judicial review challenge if and when we need to.  

It’s not too late to make a claim of maladministration against the DWP

We still need to get as many women as possible to make their maladministration claims in order to demonstrate to the DWP the level and scale of the unfairness that has been caused.  Already, as commented on earlier, they have remarked on the large volume of complaints received in comparison to their usual workload, and we need to see everyone complaining. 

Think of these complaints as our ammunition in the political and legal battle, and remember, if your complaint is upheld by the Ombudsman, they can recommend that the Government restore you to the same financial position as if the maladministration hadn’t happened.   

Our legal team recommends that all affected women should make their own complaint, because at this stage we simply do not know if the Parliamentary Ombudsman will make a ruling that will apply to all women or will apply only to those who have complained.  If you do not make your own personal complaint, you run the risk of being excluded from any potential future compensation that the Parliamentary Ombudsman may award.

If you haven’t started your maladministration complaint yet, please do so now.  If you have started your complaint, then please continue to pursue it. 

Full details of how to do this are in the Guide to Complaints on our web page, www.waspi.co.uk/action and your local WASPI group will also be able to help you with this; again their details are on our web page.

We will be in touch again as soon as there is anything new to report.

WASPI

WASPI TAKES ADVICE FROM LEADING QC

Dec. 14, 2016

WASPI have had a constructive conference with their legal counsel and are now taking the next steps in their potential legal challenge whilst at the same time pursuing maladministration complaints to the DWP regarding the changes in state pension age for women born in the 1950s. 

Advice was given by leading QCs John Turner and Gerry Facenna, supported by rising legal star Daisy Mackersie, instructed by Bindmans, on the next steps in their potential challenge.

WASPI Legal Director Susan Beevers commented: “We had a very helpful discussion with counsel and are pleased that we shall be taking the next steps in the legal process.  As I am sure our supporters will understand, I cannot provide further detailed information, as that information is legally privileged and it would be harmful to our case to reveal it at this stage.  We will, of course, provide further details as soon as we are able.”

Work is ongoing and it is not expected that there will be a further update on the potential judicial review challenge until late January at the earliest, although support for making the maladministration claims to the DWP should be issued earlier in the New Year.

WASPI TAKES FIRST STEPS IN LEGAL ACTION

Nov. 21, 2016

Here is a press release just issued by BIndmans. Our first meeting with them was just to discuss how to proceed with the maladministration complaints. Further information will follow in due course about the potential Judicial Review.

WASPI takes first steps in legal action

Having raised £100,000 on Crowdjustice in under three weeks, Women Against State Pension Inequality has begun seeking legal advice on potential challenges to the Government. Directors of the recently formed company met with their legal advisers, top London law firm Bindmans, last week to take advice on how best to proceed with maladministration complaints to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Following this meeting, Bindmans will be preparing a Guide which will help the 2.6 million women affected to make and pursue complaints to the DWP regarding its failure to give adequate notice of the rise to their State Pension Age by up to six years. It is intended to be of help to those who have already begun the complaints process to continue on through to the Parliamentary Ombudsman as well as those who are yet to get started.

The easy to follow guide is expected to be available in January and all those women who are part way through the complaints process are advised to consider holding off continuing until it is available unless that will otherwise take them beyond any relevant deadlines.

Women Against State Pension Inequality's Legal Director Susan Beevers said:

"It can be quite daunting for many women to raise a complaint against the DWP - the process is not straightforward and explaining the maladministration that has occurred over the past two decades and its significant impact can feel overwhelming. This guide will be an enormous help to them, as well as ensuring that the complaint letters they send cover all the right points."

For more information about the issues affecting women born in the 1950s who have had their State Pension delayed by up to six years, often with little or no notice, go to www.waspi.co.uk.

WASPI smashes Crowdjustice stretch target - £100,000 fighting fund now raised

Nov. 7, 2016

In what must be one of the fastest growing CrowdJustice appeals ever, the Official WASPI Campaign has raised £100,000 for its legal action against the Government.

Its first target of £50,000 was reached within 24 hours and, with 10 days of fundraising still to run, WASPI has now asked CrowdJustice to close the appeal at £100,000.

With the funding already making its way to Bindmans, the top London law firm representing the Official WASPI Campaign, Jane Cowley, Fundraising Director said: “Women Against State Pension Inequality Ltd wants to thank each and every person who has donated to the fund. It’s inspiring to know that we have such a huge level of support and a real validation of our decision to pursue a legal case”.

WASPI is protesting about the way changes were made to women’s state pension ages in the 1995 and 2011 Pensions Acts.   The changes were made to equalise men's and women's pension ages and WASPI supports this goal.

The Campaign is fighting for recognition and recompense for the unfair and discriminatory way the changes were implemented – with wholly inadequate engagement and with no proper time given to make alternative plans. WASPI estimates that 1950s women have lost up to £40,000 due to the changes and many are now in financial hardship.  

The campaign now plans to use the funding to pursue one or more legal challenges to the government. WASPI’s lawyers have identified two potential means of legal redress for women affected by the changes to the State Pension Age:

  • a judicial review challenge (or challenges) to the legality of the changes themselves;
  • maladministration complaints regarding the wholly inadequate engagement undertaken by the Department of Work and Pensions regarding these changes.

Alongside its legal campaign, WASPI continues to engage with politicians from all parties.  Its leaders recently met with MPs from the Scottish National Party and discussed with Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Ministers how the Labour Party could support the WASPI cause.

WASPI’s many local groups are making themselves heard in Tory marginal seats up and down the country and there is a growing awareness that 2.6 million 1950s women’s votes could make a big difference at the next election.

With two former Pensions Ministers, Steve Webb and Baroness Altmann now publicly pledging their support, with over 47,500 people following the Official WASPI Facebook page and with £100,000 fighting fund raised in less than three weeks, WASPI is a force to be reckoned with. 

Stretch target smashed! Crowdfunding continues.

Nov. 1, 2016

With 16 days still to run, the Fair State Pensions for WASPI women CrowdJustice appeal has reached a staggering £88,000, or 117% of its stretch target of £75,000. 

Women Against State Pension Inequality Ltd want to thank each and every one of you who has donated and continue to donate to the fund.  It’s inspiring to know that we have such a huge level of support and a real validation of our decision to pursue a legal case.

The money you have donated is now being cleared by the CrowdJustice team and paid directly to our lawyers, Bindmans, who have received the first tranche of the funds this week. 

When we saw that we were easily going to reach our stretch target and that it looked as though we might even surpass it, we approached Bindmans for advice on continuing to crowdfund for our legal challenge.  Their view was it would be appropriate to seek further funding in respect of subsequent costs of managing the Ombudsman complaint process, which will almost inevitably be incurred and that this could properly justify an increase in the limit to £100,000.

This means that your generosity in continuing to donate has put us in a much better position with regards to funding ongoing legal work with the maladministration complaints. 

However, it’s important to be clear right from the beginning, and just as we said in our original statement on CrowdJustice, that even with the exceptional response we have had to this CrowdJustice appeal, there is likely to be a need for further fundraising in the future to pursue a case to its conclusion if we cannot resolve matters with the DWP before then.

Bindmans have started work on our case and as soon as there is information that can be shared with you, we will let you know.  Meanwhile, thank you once again for your overwhelmingly generous support for our fight for fair state pension arrangements for 1950s women.

Thank you! Legal work is starting.

Oct. 21, 2016

The overwhelming support we have had means that we reached our initial target in a day and are now well on the way to our stretch target.  This means that Bindmans, our lawyers, are now starting work on our case, gathering evidence and getting expert opinion. This will take some weeks, but be assured that work is underway.

Thank you, everyone, for your support.  We will keep you updated as work progresses.

Women Against State Pension Inequality Ltd.

Funded

Oct. 19, 2016

We hit our first target!

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