New Forest East

DWP – WASPI WOMEN - 16 May 2024

DWP – WASPI WOMEN - 16 May 2024

Sir Julian Lewis: I warmly welcome the thrust of my hon. Friend’s argument. For the benefit of the record, I draw his attention and that of the House to paragraph 459 of the report, which states:

“For most sample complainants we consider the primary injustice is that they were denied opportunities to make informed decisions about some things, and to do some things differently, because of maladministration in DWP’s communication about State Pension age. That is a material injustice.”

[Andrew Selous: I am grateful to my right hon. Friend. What he says is accurate. He quotes from the report; it was in July 2021 that the ombudsman found maladministration. In the report on 21 March, it said that that had led to an injustice. Like my right hon. Friend, I will quote briefly from the ombudsman. It said of the Department for Work and Pensions that

“in 2005 it failed to take adequate account of the need for targeted and individually tailored information. In 2006, DWP proposed writing directly to women individually to let them know their State Pension age had changed, but it then failed to act promptly. We found that if DWP had made a reasonable decision about next steps in 2005, and then acted promptly, it would have begun writing to affected women by December 2006.”

My right hon. Friend and other Members will have seen that in the back of the report, there is a table showing what should have happened when. ...]

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Sir Julian Lewis: May I take the opportunity to thank my hon. Friend for his key role in the APPG [All-Party Parliamentary Group]? I put on the record the dignified and well-informed views of local WASPI co-ordinators in my part of the world, Shelagh Simmons and Sal Robinson. We heard an intervention suggesting each case should be judged on its individual circumstances. I can see the merit in that, but it would have a devastating effect on the speed with which we would come to conclusions. What balance does my hon. Friend think should be struck on those two factors?

[Peter Aldous: My sense is that there is a need to strike a balance, as the PHSO [Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman] says. A way forward is beginning to emerge from the work of the APPG and the Select Committee, and I will elaborate on that.

Since the PHSO published its report on 21 March, the APPG has sought to play its role, as part of Parliament, in finding a fair and just mechanism, as quickly as possible, as the PHSO asked Parliament to do. The hon. Member for Salford and Eccles {Rebecca Long-Bailey} and I wrote to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, and we have subsequently met the Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool North and Cleveleys (Paul Maynard), who is now back in his place. I thank him for the hearing he gave us. ...]