New FOI reveals further state pension errors

The DWP made a “series of state pension errors” prior to the current correction exercise, several of which had not previously been known to the public, a new freedom of information (FOI) request reply obtained by LCP partner, Steve Webb, has revealed.

The reply showed two of the errors had previously been made known to the public, but it also revealed a further six errors in state pension payments since 2007 that were not public knowledge.

Two cases already known to the public were the current correction exercise running from 2021-2023, designed to identify 134,000 pensioners who have been underpaid state pensions, and a correction of cases where ‘home responsibilities protection’ was due to parents but never mapped onto their state pension.

The most ‘important’ of the six previously unknown cases included an error affecting people who reached pension age under the old system and whose partner reached pension age under the new system and has now died, with an error made in the way these payments were uprated.

Another error discovered by Webb was that, under the new state pension, women who paid the ‘married woman’s stamp’ may qualify for a concessionary rate of payment if they are married, divorced or widowed and would otherwise get a low pension in their own right, with cases still emerging where women are not being paid the correct amount under these special rules.

The FOI also revealed some smaller errors including entering incorrect figures for maximum pensions, some small underpayments of state second pension and errors where people had unusually large amounts of deferred state pension.

Webb commented: “Whilst anyone can make a mistake, what is worrying about this catalogue of errors is how long it can take for anyone to spot that anything is wrong.

“In one case it was three years after the new state pension was implemented before anyone spotted a systematic problem with the payments to certain married women.

“It is also surprising that information about these errors and correction exercises has not previously been made public.

“DWP need to improve on two fronts – better error checking to make sure people are not paid the wrong pension in the first place, and greater transparency so that the public is told when things have gone wrong.”

In response, a DWP spokesperson said: “This year we will spend over £100bn on the state pension and our priority is ensuring every pensioner receives all the financial support to which they are entitled.

“These correction exercises highlight how, where errors do occur, they are identified and rectified.”

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