Last week WASPI and two of its solicitors met with the Ombudsman’s team to raise our concerns about the length of time it is taking to reconsider and rewrite his Stage 2 Report on the injustices caused by DWP maladministration.
We were told that only limited information could be shared with us because the law states that the Ombudsman’s investigations must be conducted in private. More may be shared with individual complainants whose complaints the Ombudsman is considering.
However, we were assured that the Ombudsman understands that his reconsideration must proceed with urgency so that decisions on remedying the injustices experienced by 1950s born women as a result of maladministration are made quickly as possible.
Ombudsman staff told us that all relevant evidence gathered during their Stage 2 investigation is being reconsidered by them along with some new evidence, and in light of the concerns raised by WASPI and others.
The Ombudsman has acknowledged our list of ten key steps that must be taken to produce a report that is lawful, thorough and fair. We were told that the Ombudsman is thinking again on all of the issues set out in in that list including, crucially, when DWP letter writing should have started and finished, what would have happened had there been good administration, and how women prove injustice.
We also had confirmation that those with outstanding complaints will be given a chance to comment on the Ombudsman’s provisional views, and to request all the underlying evidence on which they are based. The Ombudsman’s staff agreed to consider a proposal we made that the underlying evidence is circulated to complainants ahead of the next draft report that includes those provisional views so complainants have as much time as possible to consider it. They also said they would consider giving notice of when provisional views will be circulated.
If you have an outstanding complaint with the Ombudsman and would like to see the evidence that the Ombudsman has identified as relevant to his next draft Report, we recommend that you let your caseworker know now.
The Ombudsman’s staff were unable to say when provisional views might be circulated to complainants, or how long it will be before the investigation is completed. We asked for a broad brush indication and they were unable to give us one.
From our perspective, yet more waiting is immensely frustrating, but it is positive that the Ombudsman is looking at injustice again and re-examining all the evidence. We will continue to press for him to get it right this time when deciding on the injustice 1950s women have suffered.