Labour has voiced fears that it could take 20 years for complaints by women protesting against losing out through laws changing the pension age to be investigated.
Freedom of Information requests from campaigners and Parliamentary questions from Labour’s Ged Killen MP, have shown there are just three people dealing with more than 2,200 complaints from women who have missed out on their pensions.
Labour claims at that rate of progress it could take the government’s Independent Case Examiner (ICE) 20 years to clear the backlog.
Campaigners highlight the plight of so-called WASPI women (Women Against State Pension Inequality), who have lost out as a result of changes to pension law. Women born in the 1950s have been angered by rises in the age at which they qualify for a state pension.
From 1948 for more than 60 years men received their state pension at 65 and women at the age of 60.
But under the 1995 Pensions Act a timetable was drawn up to equalise the age at which men and women could draw the state pension. In the 2011 Pensions Act the new qualifying age of 65 for women was bought forward to 2018 – a move that has seen 2.6 million women lose out.
Killen said: “The snail’s pace at which the government is processing complaints by WASPI women, because of woeful understaffing, means that these women may have to wait longer to get a response to a complaint than they would have to wait to receive their pension.
The Independent Case Examiner (ICE) was set up to investigate complaints from WASPI women regarding the equalisation of the state pension age.
Killen added: “Since then, just 44 investigation reports into complaints about the equalisation of state pension age have been issued. The average waiting time for a response to a complaint is currently 9.75 weeks.
“At this rate, it would take 20 years for the Department of Work and Pensions to finish examining the 2,205 outstanding cases.”
A DWP spokesman said: “We are confident that we are doing the right thing to ensure the sustainability of the state pension for future generations.”