UK state pension in ‘shameful shambles’ – report
The UK House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) released a scathing report on the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on Friday, highlighting “errors dating as far back as 1985.”
Problems with the state pension payment system have resulted in an estimated 134,000 pensioners being underpaid by over £1 billion ($1.36 billion). Of the pensioners impacted by the problems, it is thought 94,000 are alive today.
“The errors happened because of the Department’s use of outdated systems and heavily manual processing, coupled with complacency in monitoring errors and a quality assurance framework that is not fit for purpose,” the report stated.
Even the department’s attempts to improve the situation were criticized, as the committee stated that there have already been nine attempts at fixing the mistakes since 2018.
While the PAC outlined ways to address the failings, including bringing in experienced, specialized staff to move the department “away from business-as-usual activity,” the required changes are estimated to cost the taxpayer £24.3 million ($32.97 million) by the end of 2023.
“This is a shameful shambles. The PAC expects the DWP to set out the step changes it will make to ensure it is among their last,” Dame Meg Hillier, the committee’s chair, said following the report’s release.
Responding to the PAC report, the DWP said that resolving the underpayments issue is a government priority. “We have set up a dedicated team and devoted significant resources to processing outstanding cases, and have introduced new quality control processes and improved training to help ensure this does not happen again,” the DWP’s spokesperson said.
A formal response by the DWP to the PAC’s findings will be issued in due course.