Exclusive: “Frightening” DWP letter to pensioners: Report for telephone interview or we can stop your pension

The ” frightening” DWP letter ( the telephone numbers of the pensioner and the official and his name have been blacked out

This a picture of the offending page 2 of the DWP letter

The headline in this story is a paraphrase of an extraordinary letter to be sent out to 15,000 people randomly chosen by the Department for Work and Pensions. Some 180 pensioners are being contacted this month.

The ministry has mounted an exercise to check fraud and error in payments for the state pension alongside universal credit, attendance allowance, PIPs, carer’s allowance, pension credit, housing benefit, and the employment and support allowance. It is run by the Performance Measurement Team. The ministry are asking people on other benefits to send them original documents showing their savings, pay slips, rent books and tenancy agreements.

It comes as the ministry faces a potentially damning report from a National Audit Office inquiry into the underpayment of state pensions to tens of thousands of women under the old state pension system replaced in 2016.

The NAO want to know how these mistakes occurred , what is being done to put them right and what lessons have been learnt. The NAO made it clear yesterday it had nothing to do with this exercise mounted by the DWP.

This also comes on top of a finding of “maladministration” by the Parliamentary Ombudsman over the ministry’s failure to inform 3.8 million 50swomen adequately about the rise in the pension age from 60 to 66.

The letter reproduced above is pretty insensitive to say the least – since it will be going to elderly people aged anywhere from 66 to their 80s and 90s.

Onus put on pensioners not the DWP

As you can see it puts the onus on pensioners to answer questions correctly-with the threat of prosecution or fines if they don’t.

” You have a personal responsibility to make sure all the information you give during the call is correct and complete.

If it isn’t and we pay you too much money you may have to pay the money back. You also risk being prosecuted or having to pay a financial penalty.”

But it gets worse. Under the heading What will happen if I do not hear from you it says:
If you fail to be available for this review and do not contact me, your entitlement to State Pension may be in doubt and your payments may be stopped. ( Bold type my emphasis).

This is “coercive and threatening language”- Rosie Brocklehurst

Pensioner Rosie Brocklehurst

Rosie Brocklehurst from St Leonards, is one who got the letter and contacted me.

She saId: “There could be 15000 terrified pensioners receiving this letter all of whom are being threatened with having their state pension. stopped if they do not “make themselves available.” This is abusive coercive and threatening language in my lexicon.”

She is 71.  She said: “The letter they send out is couched in language that is designed to frighten and certainly frightened me. I am not well and have had a chronic condition for 18 months. I have no other income but state pension and pension is not means tested. I am married and claim nothing else but my pension..”

Two points First you have to claim your pension but the calculations are done by the DWP. So if the figure is wrong it is not your responsibility, it is theirs and there is a history of the ministry getting things wrong.

The second is you are entitled to your pension. There is no way the DWP or anybody else can take it away from you. Whoever drafted that letter should have changed it for pensioners. I suspect that it may be illegal for the government to stop pension payments which they have already calculated. Certainly if the grounds are not agreeing to be interviewed.

I have contacted the DWP press office but they took over two days to reply. This is their reply;

“We urge people not to worry. We would only suspend payments in very specific circumstances such as where a pensioner has died and we are continuing payments.

“These reviews, introduced in 1997, take a sample of claims from across several benefits to help us identify cases where the department has paid the wrong amount.”

“The wording of our letters is kept under constant review.”

However what does it not say is that the state pension was exempt from all reviews since 1997. A decision to include it was taken in February this year. No explanation was given why the ministry suddenly decided to include it.

44 thoughts on “Exclusive: “Frightening” DWP letter to pensioners: Report for telephone interview or we can stop your pension

  1. Once again thank you David. I myself fell foul of dwp indirectly related to 50s pension debacle. Thank you for highlighting this now.
    I am fuming as I know of many bending the system to the limit, not hard working folk.
    Why do they target the vulnerable, when they blatantly know who the usual suspects are.
    As a retired nurse, I only wish to see health related benefits given only to the deserving

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’d make a formal complaint to DWP about the language used in the letter and ask on what basis they say they can stop the pension being paid, with absolutely no evidence that anything is amiss. If the answer is unsatisfactory or evasive, I’d follow that up with a complaint to the Parliamentary Ombudsman about maladministration. I know the Ombudsman is generally of not much use… but even so.

    Liked by 4 people

    • think that they are relying on these calls not being very successful due to maybe forgetfulness and therefore enabling them to erase some more from society ,If pensions are stopped who can the frail and elderly turn to there is nothing there its a complete organised nightmare

      Liked by 2 people

    • I think it’s a badly worded letter, what it is referring to but not saying is Pension Credit gives you extra money to help with your living costs if you’re over State Pension age and on a low income. Pension Credit can also help with housing costs such as ground rent or service charges but is a means-tested benefit. Of course the letter does not refer to that at all but no- one will be surprised with that if you have had any past dealings with the DWP. Please note the DWP holds a considerable amount of information on you, not just how many years National Insurance contributions you have paid, so be very careful when answering questions.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Are THEY trying to Kill us! First we have the scandal re Johnson’s ‘ well there only the over Eighties’ jibed… or is it, does it not increase concerns about Johnson & Toby (EUGENICS) Young!

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  4. This is appalling. Their record of poor performance, wrongly calculated figures and general inefficiency leaves a lot to be desired. It will not be put right by sending out letters of this nature. It is threatening. What if someone is in hospital as can be the case with the elderly? No reply, no pension? They have no right to do this. Yet another case of maladministration.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Well…..If I get a one of these letters…I know exactly what I shall do with it. In large capital letters I shall write “SWIVEL” across it, and post it back to them!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Disgraceful this is threatening language.
      It would be illegal for DWP to stop pension.
      It is contribution based through NI therefore earned.
      They don’t mention pension credit as a top up.
      Well orchestrated.

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  6. Another easy way for them to ‘create’ money…pay for the postage but don’t actually send the letters! O r sent out unsealed envelopes with nothing inside then cancel the payments…they were doing this shi* to me 20 years ago. Then they steal your identity and just pay the money to themselves…and if the vic talks about it they’re chemically labotomised in mental prison and those costs don’t show on their balance sheet either! It’s perfect crime….

    What kind of idiot would send the ‘original documents’ they ask for through the postal system anyway? Or even give them access to your bank account without so much of a mention of a warrant….?

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  7. The latest Whitehall govt-sanctioned Big Brother craziness…relieved to report that I haven’t received one of these.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  8. This is threatening yet again the DWP who apparently sent out letters to me and all other 1950’s women about new pension rules they want sacking all of them and made to beg for jobs or benefits like I have bloody disgraceful all of them

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve had deductions made from my state pension to recover alleged overpayment of carers allowance (before I qualified for my state pension. I appealed to both the first and upper tribunal who have eventually agreed that a mistake has been made. Nevertheless the deductions started before the appeal process was completed and I still haven’t had the money repaid!!

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  10. It seems to me that there is a definite problem with the DWP and the governments dealings towards Pensioners. Even throughout the pandemic the pensioners, disabled , JSA and ESA did not get the weekly £20 those on UC got. How can they treat those on different benefits differently ? It would appear to me that not only is there administration in the case of us 1950s ladies, I think the whole system requires a bloody good overhaul !!! Now this letter being sent to pensioners and other benefit claiments, must have been compiled by someone with a swinging brick instead of a heart, how on earth can they send this to pensioners of 70, 80 and even 90 worrying them, obviously they think we are living to long and are trying to kill more of the elderly off to save more money. It’s a disgrace the way this department Is being run, at least Dick Turpin wore a mask !!!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. State Pension is not a means tested benefit, a “handout”. It’s a contributory scheme. It depends entirely on you having paid National Insurance contributions, and you’ll pay those through PAYE or separately like your tax bill if you’re self-employed. If you work and pay tax you can’t avoid them, and DWP should have a record of them passed on from HMRC. So there should be no extra “information you have already given us”. When you’re of pensionable age they will tell you how much you’re entitled to, based on your contribution record. What on earth, then, is the “correct and complete” information you need to give them, other than to confirm you are who they think you are, and are living where they think you do? This is quite appalling, bullying and threatening pensioners who have a right to their pension, having paid in for it. I hope you’ll continue asking DWP for a reply and question it, and them, when it arrives.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Perhaps it could be to do with NI credits? Not everyone pays NI, some pay no NI at all, some have a mixture of paying NI & getting NI credits. People who are too ill/disabled to work, who get certain benefits, receive a NI credit towards their SP, as do people who stay home to look after children etc. They pay no NI, yet get a credit towards SP, no money is paid ,it is purely a paper exercise. Then there are married women who get a SP just because their husband has paid NI, even if they haven’t paid 1p themselves. Perhaps it is to check on things like this? Some people may get SP having never paid 1p in NI (or any income tax even) their whole working life! I hate the use of the word “handout” as those on means tested benefits may have paid tax and NI for decades before needing help! But, in the situation of those who never pay NI, and yet still get a SP, I don’t see how the SP couldn’t be classed as a “handout” in those circumstances?

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  12. Utterly disgusting. Most pensioners have worked damn hard for their pensions. It sounds like a Scam to me. But the again anyone in government would try to pinch back pensions that justifying belong to the persons involved. Pity the person/s that has drafted this letter, it should have been addressed to the MPs of this country. Don’t think they would have been pleased.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Absolute disgrace and yet again us Pensioners are being treated like second class citizens, why don’t they leave us alone? We have been robbed blind of our Pensions and having to fight with every bone in our body to get justice for us 50s women and now this. Boris needs to pay for his lavish lifestyle somehow, so lets rob the Pensioners didn’t someone say it was easy money? I hate this Government and cannot believe how anyone would vote for them again, but the rich Conservatives will as long as their taxes are kept low. What upsets me more is how easy former Labour voters have been lured to Boris’s Lair, he is a Liar through and through and ridicules us working/lower class people at every turn and gets away with it. Thank You David for once again keeping us informed.

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  14. Do remember that when Covid first appeared one of the first comments was “well it will kill off a lot of pensioners and save the Treasury a lot money”. Pensioners are seen by many politicians and those that support them as expensive and of no economic value. A disgrace of course.

    Reviews of claims MUST meet legal requirements. Entitlement cannot be just stopped and the Upper Tribunal and the High Court has regularly criticised the DWP (and sometimes Councils) for doing so without very good reason and quashed their decisions to do so. It has never stopped them continuing to do so.

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  15. A tip- and a good one too. Reply saying you are happy to be interrogated ( sorry “interviewed” at your local office ) – usually at your local job centre, rather than be impersonally phoned or send original documents they the post. You’re not refusing to be responsible for supplying correct info and it’s the onus back on DWP. Personal interviews used to be the norm before Covid hit. 15000 interviews Will be task for DWP.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. This is appalling. THEY make mistakes but threaten to penalise you, instead of apologising. This just confirms what the government think of, and the way they treat, women. We are not a minority. We are an essential part of the human race. The government needs to radically change their attitudes to more than half of the population.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. The fraud in dwp claiments is miniscule it’s dwp who waste vast amount of monies who are the culprits they use this stick to beat claiments with and these devils in power will not stop

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    • There is more fraud within the Governments accounts, like paying for your home refurbishment from donations and then only paying it back because you have been found out.

      Like

  18. So typical of the DWP to try and blame pensioners and others for their own incompetence. High handed, threatening letters like this going out to ANY potentially vulnerable person could be very dangerous to the wellbeing of that person. Pensioners only receive what the DWP says they are entitled to and not a penny more. Seems as if the DWP have come to the conclusion that this Government didn’t kill enough off with their Covid mess ups, so now these letters are the only way these brainless morons can think of to put the books right. Shame on them.
    I hope you pursue this bloody nonsense to the very end and I can’t wait for your next blog telling us what the DWP came back with.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Dear David Hencke,
    This is yet another stage of this damn Tory government, with Labour complicit, in trying to call the state pension a benefit, which can be stopped.

    Even The Greens in one election manifesto, wanted to still charge worker National Insurance, not charge the boss his employer NI contributions, and not have the state pension paid from it.

    Tory, Labour, Lib Dems have all thieved from the NI Fund by not paying the Supplemental into it since late 1980s, and thieving around £20bn each year to pay national debt, which is just normal government general spending.

    If receiving Pension Credit, then the government says you are liable for wrong calculations and they asked for all the money back in a lump sum.

    Pensioner husbands cannot claim Pension Credit even if right age, if the wife is below risen pension age, and both dumped onto the horrific Universal Credit, so again government makes you liable for their wrong calculations.

    Even pensioners are re-assessed for disability benefits, and could lose them, even when not means-tested.

    Admin Grey Swans pension group has realised that every politics, every party, elected or unelected, discriminates especially against women aged over 50.

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  20. Some of these people will find it hard to find the records to prove their case but, then, so will the DWP as their record keeping in some cases seems all over the place.

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  21. Mistakes? How about all the pensioners killed off by this government by putting covid patients into care homes for respite care after leaving hospital???? Saved some pension money there didn’t they?

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  22. More intolerable, sloppy, unprofessional bullying by an out of date behemoth – the DWP.

    What a vile department. Rin by fascists.

    Like

  23. Pingback: UK Pensions – firmly at the bottom of the pile – Progressive Pulse

  24. “We urge people not to worry. We would only suspend payments in very specific circumstances…’
    Sadly, DWP botch jobs occur too frequently. A recent UT appeal (JSA related) illustrates what I mean:
    ’26. The Department of Work and Pensions did not just confuse itself: the confusion created for the claimant as a result of the paperwork was significant. He was not informed what benefit was being stopped, or why. Tribunals and courts have repeatedly sought to emphasise the importance of claimants being able to understand the basis for decisions which affect their benefit entitlement. In this case the claimant was told that the basis for stopping the benefit entitlement was : ‘This is because: the law says we cannot pay you’. That was an entirely inadequate communication, and was part of a series of inadequate communications and gaps in communication.’
    SM v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (JSA) [2021] UKUT 179 (AAC)
    https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/611cfda68fa8f53dc88ae8e4/CJSA_1294_2020-00.pdf

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  25. Absolutely outrageous!! Once again pick on the weak and vulnerable and mostly Female! I’m really sick of these rich entitle nobodies taking away our fundamental rights and life wellbeing! Non existent support systems, green spaces built over! Also, our SP is NOT a Benefit!!!! We paid for it! Local councils getting richer and providing less for more! Huge corporations etc etc..I could go on ad nauseam!

    Like

  26. David you enjoy a good investigation, how about this ? How many MP’s have had to sell their parents houses/ homes to pay for social care ?

    Like

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