- EXCLUSIVE: Our investigation into readers’ problems finally pays off
- Elders in despair trying to initiate payments or end delays
- They’ve flooded us with stories since we uncovered a payment error in DWP
- Maureen Finch and husband David worried they couldn’t afford to celebrate their wedding anniversary
- Former Pensions Minister Steve Webb advises affected people to contact their lawmakers
- DWP says ‘sorry’, and is redeploying staff to process cases
Maureen Finch photographed with husband David: ‘It’s not acceptable. I have worked all my life. I never asked for a penny’
Agitated savers have condemned the gross inefficiency by the Department of Works and Pensions over the protracted delay in payment of state pension.
After This Is Money specifically revealed a service slowdown at DWP, frustrated elderly people trying to initiate or postpone payments have been flooded with stories and pleas for help.
Maureen Finch, 69, who has had no income since retiring in April, says the ‘stress is unbearable, and I’ve forgotten what a good night’s sleep’ is.
She and her husband David (pictured), who is in poor health, will approach their golden wedding anniversary next month, but can’t afford to dine out or see family at this time.
Another reader has struggled to get his pension since he turned 66 in early July, when the DWP falsified his claim form and failed to send a replacement despite multiple requests.
“I can’t bear to call DWP again.
Money then got involved and dealt with DWP for readers, some of them eventually receiving their payment.
Many elderly people complain of long wait times, frequent cuts, never-ending callbacks and empty assurances of pursuing matters when they approach the DWP.
Some say they have no income and cannot pay necessary bills – in some cases because their disability benefits stopped as soon as they reached state pension age – but claim that DWP told employees this. Was told that they still failed to help them.
The state pension is paid four weeks in arrears when it is first started, but the delay extends to another month and sometimes many more in these cases.
Late last week, Labor MP Andrew Gwynne asked the DWP ‘whether there was any delay in processing early payments for those reaching state pension age’.
- DWP says ‘sorry’, and staff are being redeployed to process cases: Read full details below
“Normal service will resume by the end of October 2021,” Pensions Minister Guy Opperman said in a written reply.
“The department is working hard to clear the backlogs that have been caused due to the COVID pandemic and staffing issues which have now been rectified. Hundreds of additional staff are currently being redeployed.
Anyone who has faced unreasonable waiting, contact your MP
Former Pensions Minister Steve Webb, now a partner in the LCP, said: ‘The DWP should have been honest and open months ago that they were having problems processing new claims.
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‘They are still refusing to say how many thousands of people have been left in limbo. People reaching pension age should not make repeated calls just to get the money they deserve.
‘Anyone who has faced undue waiting must definitely take up the issue through his MP, who should take it up with the DWP.
‘The more MPs understand the scale of the problem, the more parliamentary pressure will be put on the DWP to sort things out.’
Labor’s shadow pension minister, Matt Roda MP, said: ‘It beggars’ belief that the government has not paid people the state pension they deserve on time.
‘People work hard throughout their lives and deserve to retire on time. New pensioners are facing months of delay which shows the incompetence of this conservative government. Ministers should get hold of this and fix the issue.
Many of those who wait have no other income
Meanwhile, former Pensions Minister Ros Altman said he was happy that the DWP had found a quick solution, and hoped that lessons would be learned to prevent this from happening again.
But she questioned whether compensation should be given for those who may have had to borrow money to deal with themselves or who were financially lost because they used credit cards or ‘buy now, pay later’. Do’ loan services used and interest will be charged.
She said: ‘Many of them who are waiting for their state pension have no other income – no private pension, no savings, bills to pay and are no longer working. Where do they want to live?
‘And at least with Universal Credit, people know they’ll get money after waiting five weeks and there are emergency provisions. Nothing has been done with the state pension.
Ross Altman: At least with Universal Credit, people know they’ll get money after five weeks and there are emergency provisions. nothing has been done with the state pension
‘Once again, the hardest hit will be women, as the vast majority of women who are completely dependent on the state pension are women – the same group that has been affected by the sharp increase in the state pension age.’
This is money asked DWP if it was…