Thousands of women protesting about changes to the state pension age have had their complaints closed by the Department of Work and Pensions.
The DWP is writing to them explaining that as pension campaigners BackTo60 have been granted a judicial review into the decision, the complaints can no longer be investigated.
A few of the complaints had been sent to the DWP’s Independent Case Examiner (ICE) for review, but thousands more are choking an administrative pipeline.
The DWP letter says: “Since it is not within the ICE remit to consider issues which are, or have been, subject to legal proceedings we are no longer in a position to proceed with the investigation of your complaint.
“As a result, I’m writing to inform you that your complaint with this office has been closed.”
Changes hit 3.8m women
A judicial review is a hearing before the High Court to examine the lawfulness of a decision made by a public body.
In this case, BackTo60 is complaining that the government decision to hike the woman’s retirement age from 60 to 66 in line with men was wrong and should be set back to 60. The government denies the decision was wrong and says such a move would cost £77 billion that the country cannot afford.
BackTo60 and Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) argue that the 1995 decision was not communicated effectively to women impacted by the decision and left women with no time to make alternative financial plans for funding their retirements.
The group’s lawyers told the court that the state pension changes affected 3.8 million women born in the 1950s.
The judicial review is expected to go ahead next year after winning permission to proceed from the High Court. The action could not move forward without permission from the court.
Quest for justice
Yvette Greenway from the Back to 60 campaign said: “This is such an important step and this has made such a difference to so many ’50s women.
“The hearing is what they have prayed for, what they have worked towards for a long time.
“It’s quite rightly gone in their favour.”
WASPI campaign spokeswoman Anne Keen said: “This is a milestone in the quest for justice for 1950s born women whose retirement plans have been shattered.
“The government will now be held to task for their refusal to engage with campaigners and the distress and devastation this has caused.”