Work and pensions committee chair Frank Field has written to pensions minister Guy Opperman asking for an update on complaints made to the government by 1950s-born women affected by state pension age rises.
A number of women that were impacted by increases to their pension age – including members of the Women Against State Pension Inequality group – have accused the Department for Work and Pensions of maladministration in formal complaints over how the changes were communicated.
In Field’s letter to Opperman, dated 12 December and released today, Field says he has become aware that the Independent Case Examiner, which assesses complaints against government departments, has closed a number of cases because of an upcoming judicial review into the way in which the government has enacted the changes.
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman first said in October it woud look into a sample of complaints.
A note on the its website says: “We have since been notified that the High Court will be considering similar issues in a judicial review. It would not be practical or proportionate for us to investigate while similar issues are being considered by the Court. We will therefore await the outcome of Court proceedings before we decide whether we can and should investigate.
“We will take no further action on the complaints we have received so far, or on any new complaints we receive, until the Court proceedings have concluded, and we have considered the outcome of the judicial review.”
Field’s letter asks Opperman to confirm the number of cases that have been closed pending the judicial review, the number that are still expected to close, why these are being closed, and details of any legal advice DWP took before closing them.
In Opperman’s response, he apologises for not being able to meet the 18 December request for a reply, but said he will follow up as soon as possible.