WOMEN who have battled the UK Government after being denied their state pensions have been “vindicated” by an ombudsman’s report, a Welsh campaigner has said. 

A report published by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) has found the Department for Work and Pensions failed to communicate changes to the state pension-age to women with enough urgency. 

That meant some women born in the 1950s had retired or made plans to do so, only to find out they would have to wait years before qualifying for their stage pension due to the 1995 Pensions Act, which equalised the state pension age for men and women. 

Pamela Judge, joint co-ordinator of Ceredigion Women Against State Pension Injustice (WASPI) campaign, said she had taken redundancy expecting to receive her state pension four years later only to find out she wouldn’t in fact receive the payments for another 10 years. 

Speaking to BBC Wales she said: “I accepted redundancy when I was 56 thinking that in another four years time I would get my pension at 60 and then the following year, after I’d accepted redundancy, I got a letter from the Department of Work and Pensions telling me that I would have to wait until I was 66 so just in my case that was a big shock.” 

This week’s report by the ombudsman said the department failed to act quickly enough once it knew a significant proportion of women were unaware of the changes. 

The ombudsman said it had received a significant number of complaints about the way this was communicated by the DWP. 

READ MORE: ‘Government’s response to miners’ pensions a slap in the face’

Many women said that they were not aware of the changes, and experienced significant financial loss and emotional distress, it said. 

The PHSO said that from 2005 onwards, there were failings in the action taken by the DWP to communicate the state pension age. 

The WASPI campaign groups, which run across the UK, say 200,000 women in Wales have been hit by the pension changes and 3.8 million across the UK. 

Campaigners say women have been forced into poverty and many have had to work well beyond the age they had planned to retire of are capable of. 

Ms Judge said women's lives had been thrown into disarray by the failings but they now felt vindicated by the ombudsman’s report. 

“Women have done things like arranged divorce settlements on the basis that they were going to get their pensions at 60 and then found out too late that that was wrong, there’s all kinds of implications for women. 

“It’s a great relief because this has been a long time coming and we’ve been vindicated, we’ve been saying for years that we were treated badly and that we weren’t told about something that was really important to our financial situation and in fact our emotional situation as well. 

“It’s a great relief because we can say, ‘we told you so’, we were actually right and this is what the ombudsman said the Department for Work and Pensions didn’t follow its own guidelines and there were a number of failings.” 

She said MPs should accept the affected women have been “treated badly” and award them compensation. 

READ MORE: DWP ends six-month rule on terminally-ill benefits claims

The ombudsman said its investigation will go on to consider the impact these failings had and make recommendations to put things right for any associated injustice. 

Amanda Amroliwala, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman CEO, said: “After a detailed investigation, we have found that the DWP failed to act quickly enough once it knew a significant proportion of women were not aware of changes to their state pension age. It should have written to the women affected at least 28 months earlier than it did. 

“We will now consider the impact of these failings, and what action should be taken to address them.” 

The PHSO provides a complaint handling service for issues about the NHS in England and UK Government departments. 

A DWP spokesperson said: “Both the High Court and Court of Appeal have supported the actions of the DWP, under successive governments dating back to 1995, and the Supreme Court refused the claimants permission to appeal. 

“In a move towards gender equality, it was decided more than 25 years ago to make the state pension age the same for men and women.” 

Tom Selby, a senior analyst at investments firm AJ Bell, said: “Millions of women were affected by increases in their state pension age originally put forward in the 1995 Pensions Act. 

“It was reasonable for these women to expect the Government to provide as much information as possible to communicate changes which would have such a profound impact on their retirement plans.” 

He added: “The ombudsman now plans to look at the impact this injustice had, which will undoubtedly lead to more pressure for a resolution. 

“Given the parlous state of UK finances, calls in some quarters to compensate women affected in full – which could amount to six years of state pension payments – are likely to fall on deaf ears.” 

Additional reporting by Vicky Shaw, PA Personal Finance Correspondent

If you value The National's journalism, help grow our team of reporters by becoming a subscriber.