State Pension  

No blanket compensation for pension delays, minister says

No blanket compensation for pension delays, minister says

The Department for Work and Pensions has no plans to provide blanket compensation to pensioners who suffered delays on their first state pension payment, as thousands of claims still remain outstanding.

In a letter to Stephen Timms, chairman of the Work and Pensions committee, dated November 8, pensions minister Guy Opperman said the government could consider making special payments on a case by case basis to individuals who have incurred additional costs as a result of DWP maladministration, but this would not be applied to all cases.

When asked how many cases were still outstanding, Opperman said as of October 31, the DWP had 424 claims where payment was due, all of which have been progressed 'as far as possible'. 

As of November 4, there were 3,220 claims which needed further information before payments could be made. 

Opperman said once these claims have been cleared, the department will be working on claims with a future entitlement date, focusing on those that are closest to their first payment date to ensure no one is waiting for payment. 

But Opperman said he was optimistic this issue would not arise again.

He said: “[The delay] has been caused by a number of different factors, which individually would have been successfully managed by the organisation, but collectively, and with the added difficulties presented by the pandemic, created the delays that some customers have experienced. 

“For example, we saw an unanticipated change in customer behaviour caused specifically by the economic conditions created by the pandemic. Customers who were deferring their State Pension as they continued to work began to claim in greater numbers, potentially due to a loss of job or through a personal choice to stop working earlier than expected. 

“This change in behaviour was one factor in a higher than expected number of State Pension claims being received.”

The DWP has this year hired more staff to clear outstanding cases and is investing in online systems to process claims more efficiently to stop this from occurring again in the future.

According to the letter, over the last three weeks, people contacting the state pension claims line have waited on average six minutes for their call to be answered and 89 per cent of all calls were answered.

The DWP started its efforts to repay people 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.

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

This came after pensions minister Guy 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.

amy.austin@ft.com

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