State pension: People 'rely on the DWP' to get sums right
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State pension payments have been underpaid in approximately 134,000 instances, with a widespread effect. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has estimated those impacted were underpaid some £1billion. The matter involves women who relied on their husband’s pension contributions, including widows and divorcees.
Older pension rules and a reliance on manual systems led to a series of missteps impacting individuals.
In some instances, certain people have died without receiving the money to which they were owed.
The errors date back as far as 1985, but the process to right the wrongs has commenced.
The DWP started an exercise to correct what had gone wrong in January 2021.
However, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) highlighted this as the ninth such exercise since 2018, branding the long-term underpayment as a “shameful shambles”.
The committee added the DWP is only paying those it has identified as having a legal entitlement to arrears.
The average repayment due is set to be an average of £8,900, but it could range significantly.
Some have only received £0.01, while an underpayment has been found by the DWP of £128,448.37.
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Any back payments could make a real financial difference to older pensioners.
Dame Meg Hillier, the chair of the PAC, stated: “For decades the DWP has relied on a state pension payment system that is clunky and required staff to check many databases – and now some pensioners and the taxpayer are paying in spades.
“This is a shameful shambles. The PAC expects DWP to set out the step changes it will make to ensure it is among the last.”
Sir Steve Webb, former pensions minister and partner at Lane Clark Peacock (LCP) has urged action.
He drew attention to the issue of underpayments, and the human cost of the mistakes.
As a result, he has previously recommended Britons take matters into their own hands.
If they believe they have been affected, he has suggested reaching out to the DWP to find out more.
A DWP spokesperson said: “Resolving the historical state pension underpayments that have been made by successive governments is a priority for the department and we are committed to doing so as quickly as possible.
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“We have set up a dedicated team and devoted significant resources to processing outstanding cases, and have introduced new quality control processes and improved training to help ensure this does not happen again.
“Those affected will be contacted by us to ensure they receive all that they are owed.
“We are carefully considering the content of the Public Accounts Committee’s report and will respond formally in due course.”
Express.co.uk has contacted the DWP for further comment.
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