A CAMPAIGN to tackle state pension inequality has scored a victory in its legal challenge to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO).

The Women Against State Pension Inequality (WASPI) group launched a judicial review in the High Court earlier this year to challenge a PHSO report on the issues caused by the 1995 State Pension Act, which saw the state pension age for women raised from 60 to 65.

The report claimed that “[t]here is too much we cannot now know about what would have happened if the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) had written to women about the 1995 Pensions Act sooner”, and that none of a group of “sample complainants” had suffered injustice in the form of financial losses, or loss of opportunities because of DWP maladministration.

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However, the Ombudsman has conceded that he made a “legally flawed” calculation about the impact the alleged maladministration had, as the PHSO had decided to assess the injustice faced by affected women on the premise that they would have received a letter notifying them of changes to their state retirement age 28 months earlier than they did. This approach was challenged in court, with the argument that this calculation failed to take into account three periods during which DWP had paused its direct mail campaign.

In an unprecedented move, the PHSO has now accepted his approach to calculating injustice “failed sufficiently to consider the potential effect of the pause periods and was legally flawed for that reason.” It is the first time the PHSO has settled a Judicial Review claim at such an early stage of legal proceedings.

The PHSO also accepted there had been no proper consideration of his own loss of opportunities compensation guidance.

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Shelagh Simmons, coordinator of Solent WASPI, which covers Portsmouth, Southampton, Winchester, South Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, said: “This is an extraordinary result for 1950s-born women, including the many thousands here in our Solent area.

“The PHSO has never responded like this to a Judicial Review. It’s testament to the strength of our arguments. We have always believed in the justice of our case and have always been determined to pursue it. Nothing has shaken our resolve. Now this victory is the foundation stone for getting a better report from the Ombudsman. And, in turn, to the fast, fair compensation we have been campaigning for all these years.”

An order submitted to the High Court for approval will now see crucial parts of the Ombudsman’s Stage 2 report reconsidered. The draft Stage 3 report, which details the level of compensation women should get, will also be rewritten.