Fears state pension may become means-tested as pensioners' bank accounts could be checked under new powers

Pensioner looks at bank statement and laptop

Pensioners face having their bank account checked by the DWP under a new amendment

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Jessica Sheldon

By Jessica Sheldon


Published: 04/12/2023

- 10:20

Updated: 04/12/2023

- 11:17

The state pension is currently linked to a person’s National Insurance record

Fears the state pension could be means-tested in the future have grown after Ministers introduced new proposals which would enable the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to view state pension recipients’ bank accounts.

The new powers would allow the Government to inspect the bank accounts of anyone claiming a social security benefit, which includes pensioners getting the state pension, MPs debating the matter have warned.


Speaking in the House of Commons, Labour MP for East Ham and Chair of the Work and Pensions Select Committee Sir Stephen Timms said: “It will give the Government the right to look into the bank account of every single one of us at some point during our lives, without suspecting that we have ever done anything wrong, and without telling us that they are doing it.”

Sir Stephen questioned why the Government would need access to state pension recipients’ bank accounts, adding: “The entitlement to the state pension is not based on income, savings or anything like that, so why would the Government ever wish to do that?”

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WATCH NOW: Stephen Timms warns new proposals mean DWP could check pensioners' bank accounts

Responding to Sir Chris Bryant, who also spoke during the debate, Culture Minister Sir John Whittingdale told the House of Commons: “The state pension will not currently be an area of focus for the use of these powers.”

He added: “This is specifically about ensuring that means-related benefit claimants are eligible for the benefits for which they are currently claiming. In doing that, the identification and the avoidance of fraud will save the taxpayer a considerable amount of money.”

Sharing a video of the debate on X, formerly known as Twitter, Sir Stephen appeared to signal fears the Government could potentially introduce means-testing to the state pension in the future, meaning it would be dependent on income rather than National Insurance years.

He wrote: “Ministers last week rushed an amendment through the Commons, allowing it to look into the bank account of everybody claiming State Pension.

“Their only reason was that it might be useful one day. The only change which could make it useful would be to means test the state pension.”

During the debate, Karl Turner, Labour MP for Kingston upon Hull East, pointed out there is already something called a production order, meaning there are already ways for the DWP to apply to look at bank accounts in the event of suspected benefit fraud.

He said: "If somebody was under investigation for benefit fraud, an application could be made before a court for the production of bank accounts.

"If it was a matter of suspected fraud, there is already a mechanism available."

The MPs were debating the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill at the report stage.

GB News has contacted the DWP asking for comment.

Stephen Timms in pictures

Stephen Timms spoke in the House of Commons about the new bill

PA

To get any state pension, a person will typically need a minimum of 10 qualifying years on their National Insurance record.

The state pension can only be received once a person reaches state pension age, which is currently 66 but set to rise further in coming years.

It's not guaranteed a person will get the full new state pension or the full basic state pension, as this depends on the National Insurance record.

People can check their state pension forecast to see how much they are entitled to online via Gov.uk.

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