WPC seeks answers on DWP’s communication of GMP indexation

Work and Pensions Committee (WPC) chair, Stephen Timms, has written to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) seeking answers to the way it communicated guaranteed minimum pension (GMP) indexation changes.

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.

PHSO recommended that the DWP provides clearer information about how people could suffer losses through the change and that it shares matters with the WPC.

In the most recent letter, sent by Timms on 19 May 2021, the WPC asked the DWP how it would comply with the PHSO’s recommendations and the WPC’s recommendation that the government should not rely on “general awareness campaigns or happenchance” in promoting understanding.

Timms also referenced a parliamentary question answered by the DWP in 2014, which he said the government used as an example of a “detailed account of the change”.

He stated that the answer “does not explicitly state that some individuals will lose out” and asked: “Why do you think this is an acceptable level of communication? Would you expect to communicate changes in this way in future?”.

The letter questioned why the DWP said the impact of the policy and its communication was examined by the WPC and National Audit Office (NAO) when both events took place after the legislation had been passed, and why the findings of the WPC and NAO were not acted on.

Timms also asked why the white paper published in 2013 did not refer to any groups that would lose out from the changes and whether the DWP would provide an updated copy of the fact sheet and timetable for updating the committee on the results of the user testing the government plans to do.

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