The former minister said the adjustment of state pensions should be expanded

The scope of an exercise regulating state pension payments must be widened, a former pensions minister said.

Sir Steve Webb a problem first Liberal Democratic Party The pensions minister, who is now a partner with the LCP (Lane Clark & ​​Peacock), said a number of low payments to divorcees had emerged, including some as high as £60,000.

Sir Steve has written to Peter Schofield, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The letter reads: “In your departmental reporting and accounts for 2020/21, you have set aside approximately £1 billion to repay over 100,000 people related to state pensions.”

The group that was considered included married women and some married men, some with deceased spouses and some aged 80 and over whose pensions had not been “upgraded”.

Sir Steve Webb has urged the Department of Work and Pensions to ‘take a different look at the scale of the problem’ (Dave Thompson/PA)

(PA Archive)

The letter continues: “The purpose of this letter is to ask you to expand the scope of this exercise to include the next two groups where I believe there is evidence of administrative error. That is:

“Women (and some men) divorced when they reached state pension age but pensions are not assessed on the contributions of their former spouses;

“Women (and some men) divorced after reaching state pension age and informed the DWP of this fact but their pensions are not reassessed on the basis of former spouses’ contributions. their.”

Issues of underpaying came to light when Sir Steve, along with This is Money, brought individual cases to the attention of the DWP – and Sir Steve said he believes “systemic” problems ” was found initially may also exist for some divorced women.

The ministry dismissed concerns about the group too lightly

Sir Steve Webb

The letter read: “If the Department accepts that failure to act to change circumstances may result in widows and others being underpaid, then why not accept that divorced women may suffer missing for the exact reason?”

Sir Steve says there are increasing examples of previously divorced women being underpaid in error, including:

– A woman who divorces when she reaches the pension age is not assessed on the basis of her ex-husband’s contribution. She has been underpaid for 13 years and was recently paid back more than £36,000;

– Another woman got divorced when she retired and was told she was not entitled to the state pension. When she made a recent claim, it was accepted that she was entitled to more than £140 per week and she (was) returned over £60,000;

– A woman notified the DWP of her post-retirement divorce in 2015 but no action was taken. As recently as 2021, she was told her pension was correct. She has now received a pension increase of more than £50 a week plus £16,000 in debt;

– And another retiree who is divorced after retirement, who has received £20,000 in debt plus a huge pension increase, Sir Steve said.

He said: “A series of individual cases have highlighted mistakes that have resulted in divorced women being paid tens of thousands of pounds, in some cases over a decade or more.

“The department has dismissed the concerns surrounding this group as too light and should take a different look to assess the scale of the problem and then take action to get things moving in the right direction.”

Mr. Steve said copies of the letter were also sent to the chairpersons of Work and Pensions Commission and Public Accounts Committee as well as the head of the National Audit Office.

A DWP spokesperson said: “We encourage people to contact us if they are divorced or their civil partnership is dissolved, and we remind people every year to do so. the same with the incremental notifications we send out.

“We want people to claim benefits they may be entitled to, and we urge anyone of state pension age – or their family and friends – to check if they are short-lived. financial aid or not.

“We apologize for the errors in the identified cases and have corrected our records and paid the amount owed.” The former minister said the adjustment of state pensions should be expanded

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