Pressure grows on Government over underpaid state pensions

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Pressure on the Government to tackle the issue of under-paid women’s state pensions has increased following the tabling of a new petition on Parliament’s website.

The petition, tabled by LCP partner and former pensions minister Steve Webb, calls on the government to use its records to identify all the women who are being underpaid.  At present, the government has said that it will check its records to find one specific group of women – married women whose husband reached pension age after 17th March 2008, and whose pension should have been 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.

But campaigners are calling for the government to check for a much larger 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 17th March 2008 and still do not know they need to claim an uplift.

Even the narrower group of women who the government is looking for are likely to get repayments totalling tens of millions of pounds, but inclusion of these wider groups would be likely to lead to the government having to pay back more than £100m in underpaid state pensions.

LCP’s website calculator, which allows people to check if they are being underpaid, is still live here and has now been visited more than 235,000 times.

The Parliamentary petition was launched on 7th September 2020 and attracted over 1,000 signatures within 48 hours.  The organisers are targeting 10,000 signatures, at which point the government would be obliged to provide a formal response.

Commenting, Steve Webb 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”.

Petitions on the Parliament website are live for six months and the petition can be found here