CAMPAIGNERS in Barrow celebrated a ‘welcome step in the right direction’ after it was ruled the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) did not communicate changes to the state pension age quickly enough to women.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO), which gave the findings, said the department failed to act quickly enough once it knew many women were unaware of the equalisation of the state pension age for men and women in the 1995 Pensions Act.

The news was welcomed by the Barrow branch of Women Against State Pension Injustice (WASPI).

In a joint statement, Catherine Williams and Pat Molyneux, both members of the group, said: “We are very pleased that, after a long and thorough investigation, the ombudsman has found that maladministration took place when we were not properly notified of the changes to our state pension age.

“We hope the ombudsman will now complete the next stage and decide that an injustice has taken place that deserves compensation.

“The Government will then have a moral duty to put things right.

“We are looking for a fair and fast solution.”

The group expressed hope that Simon Fell, MP for Barrow and Furness, would provide it with support in the House of Commons.

Mr Fell said the news was ‘such an important development’ for the WASPI campaign.

“Now it’s clear that they weren’t treated fairly, DWP and parliament must look closely at the ombudsman’s findings, and then set about finding a fair and timely resolution to this issue which has hit so many women, in Furness and beyond, so hard,” he said.

The ombudsman said it had received many complaints about the way in which changes to the state pension age were communicated by the DWP.

Amanda Amroliwala, PHSO chief executive, said the DWP ‘should have written to the women affected at least 28 months before it did’.

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

Tom Selby, 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.”