Whitehall’s rip off ministry: The DWP dodges paying compensation to millions of pensioners – and the Parliamentary Ombudsman lets it off

Department for Work and Pensions or Department for Deviousness and Dishonesty?

You may remember I wrote a long article on a decision taken by the Government to no longer provide an index linked guaranteed minimum pension to millions of pensioners when they new pension came into force. The blog is here.

This decision never debated in Parliament meant the government has got away with not paying out anything from a £1000 to tens of thousands of pounds over the lifetime of their pension, depending on how long they were contracted out by their employer from the old SERPS scheme. The numbers could be as high as 11 million.

The Parliamentary Ombudsman, Robert Behrens, was asked to investigate and came to the conclusion that there had been maladministration and two people shared £1250 compensation. Unlike the row over the 50s and 60s born women who lost out by not being informed by the government over the rise in their pension age, no record exists, as far as I can find out, of the ministry repealing this provision in the 2014 Pensions Act.

Steve Webb: Ducking responsibility

And the man responsible for piloting that legislation, Liberal Democrat minister Sir Steve Webb, while publicly championing millions of women pensioners who have been underpaid by the ministry, is strangely silent about this issue which is he must be responsible.

What has happened since has taken morality and standards in Whitehall to new depths and exposed a level of deviousness and dishonesty among civil servants and cowardice in the Parliamentary Ombudsman’s Office that fittingly goes with a government headed by a serial liar.

In September 2019 the Ombudsman gave the ministry three months to sort out this issue. His proposals were quite clear. He asked the ministry to “review and report back on to us on the learning from this investigation, including action being taken to ensure that affected individuals receive appropriate communication from the DWP about their state pensions.

“ln particular, the DWP should ensure that their literature clearly and appropriately references that some individuals, who have large GMPs and reach State Pension Age in the early years of the new State Pension, may be negativity affected by the changes. The DWP should advise individuals to check their circumstances, and should provide instructions for how to do this;”

Sweet nothing happened

So what happened? Sweet nothing. The DWP ignored the deadline and then produced a factsheet which I know from correspondence the Ombudsman clearly felt did not fit the bill. But after one attempt to get this changed the Ombudsman dumped the issue and wimped out of getting the ministry to implement their recommendations.

Their press office told me: “

“We closed this case in November 2020 after working with the Department for Work and Pensions on compliance. At this point we referred the case to the Work and Pensions Select Committee, to oversee DWP’s ongoing work in this area. They will hold the Department to account on the actions it has agreed to take.

Actually the communication got lost and the committee knew nothing of this to the following April.

The DWP to cover its back claimed when challenged said:

“Working with the Ombudsman, we have now published information on gov.uk about this complex policy area and welcome anyone who wants to know how they have been affected by the policy change to contact us.

“Publishing this factsheet is the final step in the DWP meeting the requirements of the PHSO findings in relation to the way the GMP indexation policy change was communicated.”

It turns out that the Ombudsman agreed to this tardy response.

23 month delay

What finally happened was on August 12 in the middle of the Parliamentary recess, the department 23 months after being asked put out a publication notice amending its guidelines. The link is here.

I can’t imagine a more devious method about informing people and Parliament about this – in the middle of the August holiday. It is designed not to be seen.

Furthermore it does not comply with the recommendations which is why I say it is dishonest. There is no reference as you will see to the Ombudsman’s report, and the fact that people could be entitled to compensation. There is no mechanism for people to apply for the compensation and the notice was not even accompanied by a press release.

The losses are considerable for some people – about £27,000 for some women over the lifetime of their pension – but the information does not spell that out properly. Indeed all the DWP had to do was copy and paste as I have – a table from the Government’s Actuary Department ( at the bottom of this blog) which provided an ” oven ready ” guide to the losses.

Pathetic consultation using ignoramuses

A pathetic consultation process was held by the DWP – where they sought out the most ignorant people about pensions to comment- and only found seven out of 40 who agreed.. We only know this because the Commons Works and Pensions Committee published the details – the ministry itself has not published it.

There are probably millions of people who should at least get £500 in compensation but Therese Coffey, the secretary of state, is determined that nobody should know about it. It does not bode well for the 50s and 60s born women over their pensions compensation. She has already said the Labour Party should compensate the women not the taxpayer.

33 thoughts on “Whitehall’s rip off ministry: The DWP dodges paying compensation to millions of pensioners – and the Parliamentary Ombudsman lets it off

    • Unfortunately Denise we are stuck with Johnson for years yet. This is what happens when someone like Johnson is elected with a landslide majority. All he needs to do is ‘exert control’ over the Tory MPs and Bobs your uncle, we are living in a virtual dictatorship. I see very few Tory MPs willing to voice any objection, certainly not enough to make a difference, to anything this Government pushes through. Like a recent newspaper article says when interviewing a Tory MP who stated ‘I owe Boris my seat’. As long as there are Tory MPs out there who think like that, then Johnson is home and dry. The way I see it, nothing short of a vote of no confidence in the PM by the Tories is going to oust this terrible man, and I don’t think there is enough backbone out there to do it. Which in turn raises the twenty million dollar question, who would that replacement be because they’re all as bad as each other.

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  1. This is so so so wrong..
    I have had STOLEN over £40k.
    Worked hard. Redundant at just 57 then found out at job centre no sp until past 64!!!
    Total heart failure 26 dec 2016 at 10.35am ,sporadic heart beat, af…finally recd sp Nov 2017..twilight yrs stolen
    Yet hubby recd his sp at 65.
    His birthday ONE DAY after mine. Total discrimination. We need ALL our money back plus Compensation

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  2. So so angry about all of these pension-related issues. I’m a 1950’s born woman and I’m raging about the shoddy treatment we’ve received.

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  3. This is disgusting I’m a 1950 women just reached 66 at end of July Still not received my state pension cannot get to speak to anyone to find out why I’m so mad it’s making me Iill

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    • You have to claim your pension. They don’t just pay it to you. Did you claim it? Apologies if you already did, but thought I would mention it just in case!

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      • The DWP have had to redeploy their staff to deal with another mistake they made with der female pensioners who are owed £1,000s. They reckon the wait for your state pension should be resolved by end of October.

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  4. It’s out of order I’m 65 now I finished work when I was 60 lost my job couldn’t get another job because of my arthritis so I’ve been living on my saved pension so when i reach 66 I’ll have to wait a few months after I’m 66 disgusting

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  5. It’s a disgrace to the woman born in the 50s like me and it’s not going to get any better as the years go on for other people they will keep raising the deadline. They owe us the money we lost and we could even get a free bus pass until we required. It’s a total disgrace. Time now to Vote them out!

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  6. The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman has been subject of severe criticism over many years. Reform was promised in 2015, but the Bill then laid before Parliament ran out of time. Michael Gove, at the Cabinet Office, has decreed there are no plans for Ombudsman reform up to and including 2023-24. The panel who recently published the result of their enquiry into the historical murder of Daniel Morgan came to the conclusion the Metropolitan Police was “Institutionally Corrupt” It is fair to level similar accusations at the Ombudsman. Your followers can find more blogs and information at PHSOthetruestory. It is not just about failure of pension investigations – there is much, much more.
    Keep at it David.Perhaps, as a journalist, you could elicit a comment from Williamm Wragg MP who is Chair of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC).His Committee is supposed to have oversight of the Ombudsman’s work, yet the last two scrutiny sessions have failed to adequately address the substantial body of evidence submitted to the committee by the public..The country needs more journalists like you to expose the truth about not only the failures within government departments, but also the limitations and failures of the Ombudsman’s investigative processes and his accountability.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Steve Webb also championed pensioners living abroad who were not getting cost of living increases……. until he became pensions minister under Cameron.
    Don’t mention GMP to me, I took my pension early and all was well until I hit age 65. Then my pension became GMP only, no problem there until a year later when I learned I would not get cost of living increases for tens of years – for some convoluted reasons. Challenge it I did and got – further – convoluted explanation. I have been penalised by the existence of GMP yet GMP is supposed to be a protective measure for those who have been contracted out.
    David, you should know by now that anything and everything can be justified by those with power, using sophisticated and barely comprehensive reasoning

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    • @dcm539 You should d be entitled to some compensation following the Ombudsman’s ruling if you did not know you were not going to get index linked GMP. It may only be £500 but every little helps. Write and demand it.

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      • Is that really so David, thanks for that info. I already have made representations to the ombudsman – on slightly different issue but again to do with frozen GMP being imposed on me. I will await his response. Thanks again.

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      • Absolutely disgraceful. As a 50s women now having to watch every single penny spent when I should have been retired and now having to wait until I am 66.

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      • £500 would be a mono x for me, then i would be back in business! still ‘illegally’ for sure…..but if i can get done for tax evasion would i officially exist again?

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  8. What the flipping heck is going on?! We are being screwed right left and centre and have no recourse to challenge this let alone put it right and receive compensation. This country is going down the pan in a handcart.
    MPs are no longer Honourable! They no longer deserve respect, the common people are being bled dry.

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  9. Never mind compensation just give us all back our money that you have stolen from us, in most cases it’s around 50k and we need it back just to survive, everything keeps going up in price and most of us can’t afford to live so do the right thing stop pussy footing about and wasting our money now.

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  10. Everyone involved in this cover up/theft/abuse should be absolutely ashamed of themselves, how they sleep at night is beyond me. I hope they one day have to face up to the damage they have done to many innocent people.

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    • They actually don’t care, they never give it a second thought just laughing their socks of………..the only person in their head is them and how big a rise/promotion they can get by screwing someone else………..selfish to the core ALL of them

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  11. Dear David Hencke, I and many other ladies won’t understand what you are saying about the
    Guaranteed Minimum Payment. It was our belief that GMP ended alongside the end of SERPs from April 2016 (2014 pension act that brought us the new flat rate state pension system).

    All government and council workers were opted out of SERPs (including MPs). We had no choice and it did not need our consent.

    Contracting out of SERPs began from 1978, to around 80 per cent of workers. Mostly women, as it is mostly women who worked in public sector.

    SERPs ended after March 2016, so no man or woman is on that state second pension system any more, for ongoing calculation, if still of working age and still in work. You did not pay extra for SERPs, but just paid the full rate of worker National Insurance.

    The new flat rate state pension (aka single tier pension) is calculated with a reduction to all those who were opted out of SERPs. This will be the case for those retiring now, for decades to come, to most women and half of men. Making the flat rate new state pension practically individual for each person.

    Only the 20 per cent left on SERPs get extra new flat rate state pension for this ‘protected payment’, as it is now called, retiring since April 2016.

    The SERPs (aka now called protected payment) part of the new flat rate state pension, has no triple lock guaranteed annual rise, and this rose, for example, only rose 0.5 per cent.

    Please email me, as I am one of the few who understood SERPs as read up on it from the late Tony Lynes (pensioner adviser to Harold Wilson, the last government who delivered on the state), who was still alive in 2014. Died that year, but had seen the 2014 pension act.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. It’s degrading & demoralising to be treated this way I’m a 1950’s born women had no letters to inform me pension would be at 66 ? How can this be like others worked paid my dues to find no pension l’m now in poor Health aged 62 struggling at this rate be dead before I reach 66 we’ve been robbed made to feel our earned S.P. Have to fight to get it it’s ours not DWP money. How can this be allowed ? Unjust men’s SP. received top ups to there s women having to fight for what is there’s this is morally wrong & legally wrong . You are killing us .

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  13. This is disgraceful but nothing surprises me anymore with the DWP it is not fit for purpose and needs a complete overhaul as if making us wait an extra 6 years to claim a state pension and a bus pass isn’t bad enough they are still robbing us blind dropping the triple lock system now too and I bet it won’t be reinstated either. Do they not realise we have all paid in to the system since we left school at 15 for me worked constantly for best part of 5 decades done everything right and is getting punished for it why because I am a 50s born woman who incidently is having to wait a year longer than my husband did for his pension EQUALITY they are having a laugh at our expense. we will never get compensation either while this keeps getting ignored and keep treating us like we don’t exist…..

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  14. FOI request to DWP. Ad agency responsible for dog and a kennel was Craik Jones Watson Mitchell Voelkel.
    No record of what the brief was!
    Agency swallowed up by another.

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  15. Didn’t know Steve Webb had been knighted – I wonder what favour he did for the government to get that? The great SERPS scam, stealing 3.8 million women’s pensions, misappropriating £271 billion from the NI pot (that would have paid for covid), gender discrimination and watch out for removing the triple lock. If they can find any other way of stealing from moderately-off pensioners they will, with impunity as they can just change the law. I hope to God, the future government steals their pensions, just as they have done ours!

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  16. Yet another mess with the pensions and of course the victims are again mostly women. We did not have a choice over serps, it was decided by government and worse still ratified by the TUs. Those in public service were PREVENTED from paying in any additional money towards a pension scheme beyond the age 60…..now we wait for our pension at age 66/67 how right or fair is that?
    DWP, TUs and any civil servants who were involved in the collective punitive and unfair policies for pensions should be prosecuted, especially if they got a bonus for their work!
    I am sick to the back teeth of the on going silence and back peddling as well as the shoddy behaviours, manipulation fraud and theft of our pensions. It is our money which we paid to the Government, so, it is not free money which the government seem to try to imply to the public these days!! Katie

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    • Well said Katie, my sentiments exactly. It’s as if the govt think it’s an extention of their own bank accounts which they can raid as the mood takes them and gloat while they are doing it. (I especially refer to George Osbourne who stated it was the easiest thing he ever did as he merrily increased women’s pension age to 65, then as an afterthought in case he was accused of sexism and/or discrimination, further increased the pension age for both sees to 66.)

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  17. Pingback: PHSO wimp out letting DWP off the hook – David Hencke, Westminster Confidential blogpost. – phsothetruestory

  18. The government are immoral, they change the goalposts to suit themselves.
    They have blatantly disregarded their own manifestos.
    1. Triple lock
    2. Prescription charges
    3. TV license
    4. To investigate 1950’s travesty of our stolen pensions.
    I will never trust them again because they are bare faced liars.
    Totally disillusioned and disgusted!

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  19. Don’t you just love Thérèse Coffey she sits telling ppl they should get a better paid since stopping the £20.00 universal credit . This won’t government just wants the good hardworking ppl of this country to keep in working till they drop. Never do you hear them announce a plan to get migrants or refugees a package to learn English and learn skills to get a job and pay into the system . No they just come here get everything free while the government squeezes the tax payer and already picked in pensioners for ever more money . These immigrants and refugees sknevif them could do community service painting a village hall picking up litter anything not get everything given while the rest is get nothing !!

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  20. Where does this Steven Webb reside please, I’d like to put him on notice under MC Article 61. For his part in creating harm and loss to 50’s and 60’s woman.
    Hope you can oblige.
    Kind regards

    Angela.

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