State pension UK: Pressure grows on government to tackle underpaid state pensions

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Pressure on the Government when it comes to the issue of women who have been underpaid via their state pension payments has risen, following the tabling of a new petition on Parliament’s website. The petition has ben tabled by LCP partner and former pensions minister Sir Steve Webb.

It calls on the government to use its records to identify all of the women who are being underpaid.

Currently, the government has said that it will check its records to find those affected in one specific group of women.

These are married women whose husband reached state pension age after March 17, 2008, and whose state pension should have automatically increased when he retired.

The government has promised to report back on how many women it has found and how much it has paid out.

However, campaigners are urging the government to check for a wider group of women who may be missing out.

These include:

  • Widows who were underpaid as married women but are now on the correct rate;
  • Widows who are still not getting the correct rate because account has not been taken of their late husband’s contributions;
  • The widowers and adult sons and daughters of deceased married women who did not get the correct rate when they were still alive;
  • Over 80s who should be getting a non-contributory ‘Category D’ pension at £80.45 per week but may be missing out;
  • Older married women whose husband reached pension age before March 17, 2008 and still do not know they need to claim an uplift.

According to LCP, the narrower group of women who the government is looking for are likely to get repayments totalling tens of millions of pounds.

However, the pensions consultancy firm said the inclusion of wider groups would be likely to lead to the government having to pay back more than £100million in underpaid state pensions.

Commenting, Sir Steve said: “It is welcome that the government is using its records to identify a particular group of married women who it admits have been underpaid.

“Lump sum repayments to this group of around £10,000 are quite common, and the total bill to the government just for this group is likely to run into tens of millions of pounds.

“But there is a larger group of women who are currently being underpaid or have been underpaid in the past, including some widows and those aged over 80.

“It would be quite wrong of the government to expect people to come forward one by one and claim what is rightfully theirs.

“This petition is designed to put pressure on the government to use its own records to find all those who have been missing out.”

The Parliamentary petition was launched on September 7, 2020, and attracted more than 1,000 signatures within 48 hours.

The organisers are targeting 10,000 signatures, at which point the government would be obliged to give a formal response.

Earlier this year, LCP launched a calculator which enables people to check to see if they are being underpaid when it comes to their state pension payments.

The tool, which is still live on the firm’s website, has now been visited more than 235,000 times, LCP said.

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