To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps her Department took in response to the increased number of complaints to the Independent Case Examiner from women affected by the state pension age increase between October 2016 and November 2018.
The Independent Case Examiner is by its nature and name, independent. It reviews complaints about the DWP and its contracted service providers, in those cases where the complainant has exhausted the relevant internal complaints process and remains dissatisfied with the final response to their complaint.
The service provided by the Independent Case Examiner’s Office is demand led, and its resources are reviewed on an annual basis. The Independent Case Examiner’s Office received funding for thirteen additional staff in 2018/2019 financial year, during which productivity increased with the Independent Case Examiner’s Office clearing 1,246 complaints, compared to 955 in the previous reporting year.
The Independent Case Examiner’s Office accepted the first complaint concerning communications associated with changes to women’s State Pension age in October 2016. Due to the volume of complaint referrals received from this group of complainants, the Independent Case Examiner Office took the decision to bring a lead case into investigation in January 2017, in order to familiarise itself with the issues underpinning the orchestrated complaints campaign. This investigation concluded in June 2017 – The Independent Case Examiner did not uphold the complaint.
To deal specifically with this group of complaints, the Independent Case Examiner’s Office set up a team of three Investigation Case Managers in October 2017. This team concluded 192 investigations between October 2017 and November 2018, none of which were upheld on the main element of complaint. The Independent Case Examiner’s Office closed this group of complaints in December 2018, when they became subject to legal proceedings, as is required under its governance contract.