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Changes to the State Pension age

From the 1940s until April 2010, the State Pension age (SPA) in the United Kingdom was 60 for women and 65 for men.

Legislation to increase the SPA has been introduced in several stages since the 1990s. In particular, the Pensions Act 1995 legislated to increase the SPA for women from 60 to 65 in stages between April 2010 and 2020, to bring it into line with that for men.

The Pensions Act 2011 brought forward the increase in women’s SPA to 65 to November 2018.

Debate over the changes

These changes have been controversial. In particular, they have given rise to a long-standing campaign with some women born in the 1950s arguing they have been hit particularly hard, with significant changes to their SPA imposed without sufficient notification.

This led to an unsuccessful judicial review challenge to the increase in women’s SPA, which was dismissed by the High Court in October 2019, and again by the Court of Appeal in September 2020.

Ombudsman investigation into how the changes were communicated

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) is currently investigating six sample complaints about how the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) notified women born in the 1950s about rises in their State Pension age.

In a report published in July 2021, the PHSO found specific instances of maladministration in 2005 and 2006 in the way the DWP communicated these changes to affected women. This investigation is now considering whether this maladministration led to injustice and, if so, how this should be remedied.

The Government has declined to comment on this investigation, saying it would be inappropriate to do so while the investigation is ongoing.

This briefing provides further information on the PHSO’s investigation and surrounding debate.

Further information

Further information on the broader policy issue of State Pension age increases for 1950s women can be found in the Commons Library briefing, Increases in the State Pension age for women born in the 1950s.

Further information on the timetable for increasing the State Pension age and the way it is reviewed can be found in the Commons Library briefing, State Pension age review.

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