The women’s state pension age rise will get a judicial review

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The Back to 60 campaign, which wants the state pension age for women to be reversed to 60, has won permission in the High Court for a judicial review of the state pension age rise.

What’s the background?

Three women have brought a case against the government, for a judicial review of the rise in the state pension age and how it has affected women born in the 1950s. The case was brought to the High Court by Backto60, which has formed an umbrella group for 1950s women, called ‘One Voice’.

What happened in the High Court

Today’s court hearing lasted for two hours. It was a preliminary hearing, and as a result of the judge’s decision, the claimants can now have a full hearing for a judicial review of the way the state pension age rise has been introduced.

The hearing today heard evidence that the way the state pension age was increased after April 2010, and the fact that many of the women weren’t written to – or weren’t written to until it was too late to make other plans – discriminates against women on the basis of sex and age.

The government argued that it was too late to challenge the decision to raise the state pension age to 65 because the law that brought in this change, was passed in 1995.

Yvette GreenWay is founder of Anna Christian Campaigns and a trustee of SOS. SOS provides mental health support to women affected by the rise in state pension age. She says: “I think any woman born in the 1950s can take great heart from the result achieved last week. It’s a huge step forward. That ruling last week was vital in order to progress to a full judicial review.”

What happens next?

The full hearing will take place in early 2019.  Papers must be lodged within 42 days of the preliminary hearing (so by January 18th). This will allow a proper examination of the arguments put forward by groups representing 1950s women, in particular Backto60 and OneVoice.

NB: Article corrected on 9th to change ‘the hearing must take place’ to ‘papers must be lodged’. Apologies for the mistake.

What does it mean for WASPI DWP complaints?

The Department for Work and Pensions told me that any complaints to the DWP that have reached the Independent Case Examiner have been put on hold. Depending on the outcome of the judicial review, these cases may be re-opened.

UPDATE: Quite a few of you got in touch with me on Sunday to say that you had received a letter saying your complaint case was closed. I’m going to go back to the DWP press office and see what they say about this.

UPDATE: 11.12.18 I’m publishing my email exchange with the DWP press office, so you can see what I was told and when. The only thing I’ve not included is the name of the press officer. I rang the DWP press office on Friday afternoon to ask if WASPI maladministration complaints made to the DWP were being put on hold or had been closed. The press officer told me he thought they’d been put on hold, but that he’d check. He asked me to email my query to him.

This is what I said:

Hi,

Thanks for your time just now. Just to confirm, the question I’d like an answer on is whether the complaints that have already been made to the DWP, and have got to the ICE stage, have been put on hold as a result of the judicial review, or whether they’ve been closed completely?
I don’t know if you’re releasing information about how many complaints this involves or how many you’ve received, but I’d like to know if you’re able to tell me.
Many thanks
Sarah
The reply I received later that afternoon was this:

Hi Sarah,

Future action on the ICE complaints submitted will depend on the Judicial Review Ruling. We will need to await that judgement.

Thanks,

I took this to mean that the complaints had been put on hold and not closed permanently. If the cases had been closed permanently, there can’t be any ‘future action’. So, in my article, I wrote that cases had been put on hold. After I sent out the SavvyWoman newsletter on Sunday, I received dozens of emails from women who’ve been sent letters saying – very clearly – their cases have been closed. I updated the article yesterday to reflect that and emailed the DWP press office again.

Here’s what I wrote:

Hi,

Thanks for sending this. I’ve been contacted by dozens of women who’ve been sent letters from the ICE, saying (in bold, apparently), that their case is closed.
This doesn’t quite tie in with my understanding of your reply.
Could you clarify whether or not cases have been closed (by which I think most people would understand the complaint has reached the end of the road) or whether the letters that these women have been sent only mean that cases have been temporarily closed? If that’s the case, I’d question whether the word ‘closed’ is the right one to use.
Thanks
Sarah
Here’s the reply I received this afternoon (11th December):

Hi Sarah,

These cases have been closed by ICE as it does not have the remit to consider issues which are, or have been, subject to legal proceeding.

The government will consider the High Court’s judgement once it has been reached, which will cover the issues raised by ICE complaints.

Thanks,

End of email chain.

I’m sorry for any confusion, but I hope you can see why I wrote what I did.

Related articles: 

Men’s pensions are five times bigger than women’s; but why?

History of the state pension; 10 things you need to know about how it affects women

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