The Department for Works and Pensions has compounded the big scandal over millions of people who are entitled to compensation for the ministry’s hidden decision to scrap an annual increase worth anything up to £27,000 over the lifetime of a pension for those, particularly women, who were contracted out of Serps by private companies.
Previous blogs highlighted this scandal after the Parliamentary Ombudsman ruled that there was maladministration in not telling millions of people that they would lose out when the new state pension was introduced in 2016. Only two people were compensated with sums of £500 and £750.
But the Ombudsman wimped out in enforcing the compensation for millions by allowing the DWP two years to take action to compensate people and then allowing them to create a factsheet which didn’t tell the full story.
Suspicious that the DWP was still avoiding to do anything a campaigner on this issue, Chris Thompson, put in a freedom of information request to the DWP to find out how many people have asked to be compensated,
The answer has now come back. The DWP said:
“We can confirm that we hold information falling within the description specified in your request. However, we estimate that the cost of locating, retrieving and extracting the information for these requests, when aggregated, would exceed the appropriate limit of £600. The appropriate limit has been specified in regulations and for central Government it is set at £600. This represents the estimated cost of one person spending 3½ working days in determining whether the Department holds the information, and locating, retrieving and extracting the information.”
This was only asking about emails and letters the ministry had received since August 12 this year – a matter of a few weeks- it is rather suspicious if not laughable that this would take more than 3.5 days to find out. Surely the department would have a simple database to do a computer search.
Suspicion that nobody or few people have contacted the DWP
Mr Thompson suspects there is another reason.
” I think the reason the DWP don’t want to give me the information is that no one has contacted them or only a few which would show up by putting it on GOV.UK so that people only find out by happenchance which is not very satisfactory. For GOV UK to be a suitable way for people to find out about loss of GMP indexation then a majority of the 11 million people should see it. I wonder if they did any sort of assessment to find out how many people they thought would find the fact sheet on the GOV.UK website.”
Again this bodes badly should the women born in the 1950s and 1960s achieve compensation for maladministration over the up to six year delay in receiving their pensions when the age was increased from 60 to 66. It sounds like the government won’t be very helpful in telling people how many were compensated.
However they may be another way to get hold of what is happening or rather what is not happening.
Following some lobbying by Mr Thompson and myself Stephen Timms, the Labour chair of the Commons works and pensions committee, plans to tackle the government over this omission.
He has been promised a six month review by the ministry on how the use of the factsheet is working.
He told us that he intends to write to the ministry in December demanding that as part of the review they disclose how many people have applied for compensation.
This means whether they like it or not the DWP will have to spend some money and time finding out – unless they are going to tell Mr Timms that it is too expensive to do the exercise. We shall wait and see but for some of the people who don’t know they are entitled to this money – it could be a matter of life and death – as they may already be in bad health and could die before they realise.
Previous blogs on this:
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