DWP issues GMP factsheet following PHSO recommendations

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has published a factsheet on the impact of guaranteed minimum pension (GMP) indexation changes, with user testing of the updated communications so far “in the main, positive”.

In 2019, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) partially upheld complaints made by two individuals against the DWP regarding the way information was communicated after changes to GMP indexation policy came in with the new state pension.

The Work and Pensions Select Committee chair, Stephen Timms, recently wrote to the DWP to follow up on this, seeking answers as to how the department has complied with the PHSO's recommendation to provide clearer information on the transition.

In response, DWP permanent secretary, Peter Schofield, confirmed that a fact sheet has been prepared to meet two recommendations made by the PHSO; explaining the policy change in a straightforward way and giving others who may have felt the same injustice as that reported by PHSO the opportunity to come forward.

Furthermore, as requested by PHSO in November 2020, the factsheet has undergone user testing and a survey, with DWP stating that the response rate to the survey of seven from a poll of 40 individuals was "typical for this type of work and content", and that user testing results were, "in the main, positive".

The user testing team also highlighted challenges around engaging individuals on state pension related matters, clarifying however, that this is a situation that can only get easier as we move further away from the complexities of the old scheme.

The factsheet will be user tested in live running and will be formally reviewed six months after publication.

In addition to this, Schofield confirmed that the DWP has apologised, paid the complainants and notified the PHSO, as required under the recommendations.

However, in relation to the WPC’s recommendation that the government should not rely on “general awareness campaigns or happenchance” in promoting understanding, Schofield stated that it is "not feasible" for the department to advise members of the public about how changes to the law affect their own particular individual circumstances, and that this should fall to independent professional pensions advisers.

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