Women’s State Pension Age - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:01 pm on 26 March 2024.

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Photo of Lord Davies of Brixton Lord Davies of Brixton Labour 8:01, 26 March 2024

The House should thank the Minister for bringing us the Oral Statement and answering the questions. We should, however, be under no illusion that this is only a minor element of the issues raised by the 1950s women arising from the increase in their retirement age. This stage is not about any form of restitution of the pension they have lost, it is simply about a failure on the part of the DWP to provide the people affected with adequate information. What is clear from the ombudsman’s report is that the DWP failed to adequately inform those concerned. That is what the report finds. It also finds that it constituted maladministration. Those points, those issues, were identified in the stage 1 report. So that part is not a surprise. The Government have known that for some time.

This stage identifies that that maladministration amounted to an injustice, and it suggests that those who were affected by that injustice are entitled to a remedy. The Secretary of State said in the Commons yesterday—he said it 26 times, by my count—that there would be “no undue delay”. Well, “undue delay” implies to me that there will be a delay. The Secretary of State argued—it has been repeated by the noble Viscount today—that the reason for this delay is the complexity of the issues.

I am afraid I do not have much sympathy at all for this issue of complexity. The issues are clear and straightforward: a group of women were told later than they should have been about the change in their retirement age and, because of that, they suffered detriment—a loss of autonomy and a loss of life chances. That is the injustice. That is all clear. It does not need any further assessment or thought. It absolutely leaps off the page in the ombudsman’s report.

My question for the Minister is: whatever the need for delay to work up the fine details of any deal, will he not accept that it is now time to acknowledge there was maladministration, as identified some time ago by the ombudsman? Will he recognise the injustice that is set out in this report? Will the Government commit to implementing some remedy in the light of the maladministration and the injustice?