Internal documents and screenshots reveal staff instructed to halt calls from worried pensioners and avoid complex cases to boost numbers
The Department for Work and Pensions is telling the public that it has set up well trained specialist teams to pay out up to £1 billion owed to at least 135,000 pensioners after huge underpayments were uncovered.
The real picture is one of overworked staff desperately trying to calculate with outdated computers how much money people will get while creating a knock on effect for new people applying for their first pension.
Now documents and screen shots seen by this blog reveal that staff have been instructed to ” close calls” from pensioners if they don’t fit the profile and even drop investigating complex claims for simpler ones to artificially boost the number being helped.
A new telephone message has been put on the pension helpline telling people NOT to call them and wait to be contacted instead. ” please be patient as this may take us some time.” Sometime in the worst case scenario could be December 2023. And for people who may not have long to live that is bad news. Note also it blames media coverage for the volume of calls.
Yesterday the Department launched from Newcastle-upon-Tyne its SP [state pension] Challenge – a slick management exercise to try and instill team work among thousands of staff who are trying to cope.
However some of the screenshots reveal how management haven’t necessary got all the information because of outdated computers.
Probably the worst example of the problems they face is the ” drop and go ” policy – where staff to boost numbers are told to abandon the case and find another simpler one. This was used during the challenge yesterday.
The official response which I got before I saw these documents is:
“Resolving the historical State Pension underpayments that have been made by successive governments is a priority for the Department and we are committed to doing so as quickly as possible.
“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. Those affected will be contacted by us to ensure they receive all that they are owed.”
The DWP will have to respond soon to the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee which has already called out the whole process as a shambles. It will make interesting reading to see how top officials and ministers spin their replies. Whatever they say the situation can’t be good if the ministry continues to emphasise it doesn’t want people to ring them.
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