To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the efficacy of the Independent Case Examiner in investigating complaints from women affected by state pension age equalisation measures.
This answer is the replacement for a previous holding answer.
11 October 2018
The approach of successive governments has been consistent. The Independent Case Examiner is independent. She is appointed under contract to adjudicate on escalated complaints about the DWP, and its contracted service providers, in cases where the complainant has exhausted the relevant internal complaints process and remains dissatisfied. If a complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome of an Independent Case Examiner investigation (or the service provided by the Independent Case Examiner) they can ask their Member of Parliament to escalate their complaint to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
Ministers have no role in assessing the efficacy of the Independent Case Examiner in investigating complaints from women affected by State Pension age equalisation measures.
The Independent Case Examiner resources are reviewed on an annual basis. Since October 2017, the Independent Case Examiner has experienced increased levels of referrals associated with legislative changes to State Pension age for women. The Independent Case Examiner responded by dedicating a team of three investigation case managers.
The Independent Case Examiner aims to complete any investigation within 20 weeks of starting work on a case. The Independent Case Examiner reports related to legislative changes to State Pension age for women that have been concluded to date have been completed within an average of 9.75 weeks. To date, the Independent Case Examiner had not upheld any case specific complaints that the DWP failed to provide adequate and timely information relating to the increase in State Pension age. All final Independent Case Examiner reports explain how the complainant can escalate their complaint to the Parliamentary Ombudsman’s Office. The Parliamentary Health and Service Ombudsman make final decisions on complaints that have not been resolved by UK Government Departments. This was set up in 1967 under the then Labour Government.