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Closed petition Hold a Public Inquiry into state pension age changes for women

We request a Public Inquiry into their state pension age changes for women, which we believe have left many in a state of financial and mental despair. We believe the Government has had little or no consideration of the circumstances, historic inequality, mental health and wellbeing 1950s women.

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We believe that women affected by these changes were given inadequate notice that they would have to wait in some cases a further six years to receive the State Pension. We believe a Public Inquiry is necessary to expose the truth.

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Government responded

This response was given on 24 May 2024

State Pension age changes have been considered by the Ombudsman, Parliament and the Courts. There is therefore no need for a Public Inquiry, and it would not be good use of public money.

The Government has no plans to hold a Public Inquiry into the State Pension age changes for women.

Changes to the State Pension age were made over a series of Acts. Starting with The Pensions Act 1995 to equalise State Pension age. The Pensions Act 2007 brought forward recommendations of the Pensions Commission that the State Pension age should be increased to reflect increases in life expectancy and legislated to increase State Pension age to 68 over a thirty-year period. The Pensions Act 2011 and 2014 accelerated these timetables. In addition, The Pensions Act 2014 legislated to introduce periodic reviews of State Pension age. Each Act followed detailed consideration of the issues through public consultations. For instance, The Pension Act 1995 was informed by both a Green Paper and a White Paper. All changes have been subject to extensive debates in both Houses of Parliament and associated analysis accompanied the Acts, such as the Summary of Impacts published on 21 November 2011 following Royal Assent of The Pensions Act 2011.

Increasing State Pension age has been a longstanding policy of successive administrations to ensure the sustainability of the State Pension and has also addressed an inequality in pension age between men and women. These issues have therefore been extensively considered by Parliament.

They have also been considered by the Courts. Both the High Court in 2019 and Court of Appeal in 2020 found no fault in the actions of the Department for Work and Pensions, under successive governments dating back to 1995, finding it acted entirely lawfully and did not discriminate on any grounds.

The Court of Appeal found that not only was there was no duty to notify those affected by the change in State Pension age but that the High Court were entitled to conclude as a fact that DWP gave adequate and reasonable notification of State Pension age changes.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) has also investigated the way DWP communicated State Pension age changes from 1995 onwards impacting 1950s-born women. The Ombudsman published his report on 21 March 2024, the culmination of around 5 years’ work.

The Ombudsman has used statutory powers to lay the report before Parliament and both Government and Parliament are carefully considering the report. There have been a number of recent debates and questions in Parliament on the issue.

A Public Inquiry would not be a good use of taxpayer’s money. It could be expensive, and it is unclear what it would achieve when issues relating to State Pension age changes have been extensively scrutinised already.

This Government remains committed to ensuring that all older people can live with the dignity and respect they deserve, and the State Pension is the foundation of state support for older people.

In 2024-25 we will spend over £167 billion on benefits for pensioners. That is 6% of GDP and includes spending on the State Pension which is forecast to be around £138 billion in 2024-2025.

We are committed to the Triple Lock. This year we increased the basic and new State Pensions by 8.5%. In 2024/25, the full yearly amount of the basic State Pension will be £3,700 higher, in cash terms, than in 2010. That is around £990 more than if it had been uprated by prices, and around £1,000 more than if it had been uprated by earnings (since 2010).

In 2021/22, there were 200 thousand fewer pensioners in absolute poverty after housing costs than in 2009/10.

The 2016 State Pension reforms introduced the new State Pension, to be simpler, more sustainable and with a very clear objective of providing a foundation for private saving.

In this way the state provides a base to which people can add, to provide the pension they want through their retirement. The new State Pension improves outcomes for many women, carers and self-employed people, who often did less well in the past.

State Pension outcomes are projected to equalise for men and women over a decade earlier than they would have done under the old system.

On average, women receiving the new State Pension receive around £18 per week more than women under the pre 2016 system. Under the new State Pension, on average women currently receive 97% of the amount received by men.

Automatic enrolment has helped millions more women save into a pension, many for the first time, with participation rates for women catching up with those for men. Pensions participation among eligible women working in the private sector was 86% in 2022, up from 40% in 2012.

Department for Work and Pensions