State Pension  

DWP prioritises vulnerable for pension back-payments

DWP prioritises vulnerable for pension back-payments

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is prioritising those who are most vulnerable as part of its efforts to repay thousands of individuals who were underpaid the state pension. 

In a written statement, published this week (October 18), pensions minister Guy Opperman said the government was prioritising older cases and those it believes to be the most vulnerable when correcting state pension underpayments.

The DWP began this exercise back in January to clear backlogs which occurred as a result of the Covid pandemic and staffing issues.

People affected are those on the new state pension who faced delays receiving their first payments.

A DWP spokesperson said: “We are sorry that some new state pension customers have faced delays receiving payment.

“All those affected have been identified and we have deployed extra resources to process these as a priority. Any claims made today should not be subject to delay.”

The government hopes normal service will resume by the end of this month.

In July, the DWP said it had recruited 183 new members of staff to work on its state pension teams. 

This came after Opperman announced in April that throughout 2021/22 the department would look to hire an additional 360 staff, bringing its total headcount to 510, to help it deal with the issue.

The DWP wrote to affected individuals to inform them of the changes to their state pension amount and of any payment they could receive.

It also sent a text message to savers to let them know that their claim has been received and is being processed.

The DWP is also currently dealing with a separate issue of state pension underpayments.

Last month, the National Audit Office found the DWP had underpaid 134,000 pensioners - 90 per cent of which are understood to be women - by more than £1bn.

The NAO put the underpayment down to “years of human errors”, criticising the department’s “high degree of manual review and complex rules”.

Pensioners affected by the department’s errors were those who first claimed the state pension before April 2016 and who do not have a full National Insurance record or who should have inherited additional entitlement from their deceased partner. 

Of the 118,000 pensioners the department could trace, it found it had underpaid them by an average of £8,900 each. 

But some underpayments were as large as £128,448, with the earliest dating back to 1985.

The issue of state pension underpayments was first raised by pension consultants LCP back in May.

amy.austin@ft.com

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