Parkinson’s law: Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.

When the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) decided, in November 2017, to investigate Waspi complaints made to the DWP and ICE, it was to ‘streamline’ the complaint process and shorten the time to resolution.

The investigation will now focus on a representative sample of complaints and how any such maladministration should be addressed, which is expected to speed up the process significantly, a spokesman for Waspi said.

It took PHSO until October 2018 to identify the six cases, then in November 2018, they halted investigations due to judicial review proceedings. It was not until March 2020 that the investigations resumed.

A year later there is excitement among WASPI campaign groups that the Ombudsman will soon report on the first stage of the investigation.

The first stage is looking at whether there was maladministration in DWP’s communication of changes to women’s state pension age. Maladministration is when an organisation does something wrong or provides poor service. We will look at what DWP should have done to communicate the changes in women’s state pension age, and whether it did this.

Only when the first stage is complete (and it isn’t yet) does the second stage begin.

At the second stage, we would also consider the complaints about DWP not adequately communicating the required number of years of national insurance contributions to receive a full state pension, as well as DWP’s and ICE’s complaint handling.

As David Hencke points out in his latest Westminster Confidential;

The real scandal is how long this will take. Covid 19 has already killed a substantial number of women in this group and bad health, stress and poverty is putting many others at risk. You only have to read the comments from people on my blog to see this. 

No idea when he will report

He can’t even give a ball park date when he will report. The more he delays the fewer people will get any compensation because they will be dead. Unlike other inquiries the grim reaper will keep reducing the size of the overall compensation package.

Logic would suggest that it would have been beneficial, in the name of ‘streamlining’, to look at whether there was poor communication by the DWP regarding the changes to pension age and whether women were given misinformation about the number of years NI contribution at the same time.

According to Parkinson’s law, civil servants, or in this case crown servants, are perfectly capable of filling up time ad infinitum, unless of course, someone starts asking difficult questions about performance stats.

On the 18th March 2021 Justin Madders, Shadow Minister for Health and Social Care asked the Duchy of Lancaster (Michael Gove) some very searching questions regarding PHSO performance.

Not that he got a very satisfactory response from Chloe Smith, Assistant whip.

Presumably, the unaccountable independent PHSO will reply to the honourable gentlemen in due course. After all, what’s the rush?