State pension warning: Britons given wrong amount as system 'riddled with errors'
Published: 25/05/2023- 12:11
Updated: 25/05/2023- 13:31
Millions of Britons are receiving the incorrect amount of state pension, according to a former state pensions minister who warns retirees to check payouts as the system is "riddled with errors".
Sir Steve Webb says a string of major mistakes has led to huge numbers of pensioners receiving less money than they are entitled to.
Figures suggest as many as one in ten pensioners was underpaid by an average of £400 each last year.
As a result, up to 1.3 million pensioners are being left out of pocket, according to a Labour Party analysis of official documents.
Sir Steve Webb says a string of major mistakes has led to huge numbers of pensioners receiving less money
Some pensioners have reported that when they try to correct errors, they face months of delays or are simply ignored.
Many also find it almost impossible to get through on the phone to the Department for Work and Pensions.
Webb, who is now partner at consultancy LCP said: "I fear the state pension is so riddled with errors that recipients should not automatically trust that the income they receive is correct.
"Essentially, you should always start from the assumption that the sum of money you get may be incorrect — that’s how bad it is."
He added: "My advice would be — if you’re not sure, challenge it."
In 2020, the Government admitted it had made systematic errors in state pension calculations where in total 237,000 elderly women were affected.
The three main groups of people are affected include widows whose pension payout did not change when their husband died, divorced women whose entitlement should have been boosted by their ex-husband’s contribution record and anyone over the age of 80 who is receiving less than £93.60 a week, regardless of their National Insurance record.
Since then, the Government has launched a major scheme to correct and reimburse those affected.
It emerged in September that some parents and carers have also been affected by DWP calculation errors.
In 2020, the Government admitted it had made systematic errors in state pension calculations where in total 237,000 elderly women were affected
This was because credits for time spent at home looking after children or vulnerable people were not added to their National Insurance records.
Webb estimates that this group of people — which is a majority of mothers who stopped work to care for young children — is owed between £100 million and £200 million.
The Government confirmed that this error is the second largest source of mistakes in pension payments, behind the £1.5 billion owed to married women and widows.
A DWP spokesman says: "Our priority is ensuring pensioners receive the financial support to which they are entitled, and State Pension underpayment rates due to official error remain low at 0.5 per cent of expenditure.
"Where errors do occur, we are committed to fixing them. The quickest and easiest way for customers to find out about the state pension and their National Insurance record is online. If they need to phone us, calls are answered as quickly as possible."