Pensions scandal: Even more women were underpaid

More people – mostly women – have been underpaid their state pension than previously thought, latest government figures show.

By Kevin Peachey

A new estimate suggests 237,000 state pensioners were paid less than their entitlement, with a total of nearly £1.5bn underpaid.

That is 105,000 more people affected than the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) calculated a year ago.

They include widows and divorcees who could have been underpaid for years.

The problem dates back to 1985 and relates to the “old” state pension system. Married women who had a small pension of their own could claim a 60% basic state pension based on their husband’s record of contributions. But an error at the DWP meant they were not automatically given this money.

Along with widows and divorcees, some will eventually receive all their entitlement, although years later than they should have done. Others will only be able to claim for 12 months of missed payments.

When figures were first revealed by the DWP, it was thought that 200,000 female pensioners were collectively owed up to £2.7bn. After more details were collected, the estimated numbers were scaled back to just over 130,000 people affected, at a total of just over £1bn.

Now those estimates have been changed again, with the prospect of more revisions to come.

“DWP has carried out additional reviews of its records to understand the pensioners that may be affected, but the full extent of the underpayments will not be known until every case has been reviewed,” the National Audit Office said.

The situation was described as “a shameful shambles” by the Public Accounts Committee of MPs in January,

Errors repeated

The committee’s report said the errors were the result of outdated systems and heavy manual processing of pensions at the DWP. It also said there was a risk that the errors that led to underpayments in the first place could be repeated in the correction programme, the ninth such exercise since 2018.

Former pensions minister Sir Steve Webb, who is now a partner at consultancy LCP, said the DWP had also admitted to an error in which credits for time at home with children – previously known as home responsibilities protection – may be missing from people’s National Insurance records and therefore affect their state pension.

“Not only is the cost of the underpayment correction exercise set to soar, DWP are now admitting a whole new category of errors,” he said.

“In both cases it is women who will bear the brunt of the errors. We need much greater transparency about all of this rather than leaving it to figures buried in the small print of annual reports. Far too many people have been underpaid for far too long”.

A comment on the Stagecoach major timetable changes which includes service reductions.

From a Correspondent: 

As one of 600 residents in Axmouth. A village with no shops or facilities I am shocked at the announcement that the 9a bus, operated by Stagecoach is no longer to pass through our village. This has happened very quietly and quickly. We learned about it only yesterday during a meeting of 20 elderly ladies gathered for a social event. We need this bus as many of us do not drive and parking in Lyme Regis is impossible during the summer.

I think there is a timescale involved to alert the public as to the changes they intend to make. There is no notice in the bus shelter and I have not seen anything in the local press.

See proposals to cut bus services (the devil lies in the detailed timetable changes – Owl)

What a mess the Conservatives have made of government.

What damage have they done to our country?

They chose a man for Prime Minister who was clearly unfitted for the role; they indulged his disregard for rules; lack of integrity and dishonesty for far too long. He and his cronies have squandered billions without due scrutiny.

Now, at a critical time when our economy under performs that of our competitors and our inflation rate is soaring, our government lies broken.

How can Boris Johnson lead an administration when a quarter of the government walked out (58) on him over the past two days?

By replacing them with more members of the Boris fan club? What will that say? – Owl

‘Unwise and unsustainable’ for Boris Johnson to remain PM, warns Sir John Major

David Hughes 

Former prime minister Sir John Major has said it would be “unwise and may be unsustainable” for Boris Johnson to remain in office while a new Tory leader is elected.

Sir John warned Mr Johnson would continue to have the power of patronage and the ability to make decisions affecting the lives of people across the country despite losing the support of his MPs and ministers.

He warned the new interim Cabinet appointed by Mr Johnson following the wave of resignations this week may not be able to “restrain him”.

In a letter to Tory 1922 Committee chairman Sir Graham Brady, Sir John said: “The proposal for the Prime Minister to remain in office – for up to three months – having lost the support of his Cabinet, his Government and his parliamentary party is unwise, and may be unsustainable.

“In such a circumstance the Prime Minister maintains the power of patronage and, of even greater concern, the power to make decisions which will affect the lives of those within all four nations of the United Kingdom and further afield.

“Some will argue that his new Cabinet will restrain him. I merely note that his previous Cabinet did not – or could not – do so.”

Sir John suggested Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab could serve as acting prime minister until a new leader is elected.

Or he said Tory MPs could elect the new leader who would become prime minister, with party members then asked to endorse the decision.

Sir John said: “Neither of these options is ideal, but the interests of the country must be given priority over all else and with so many long-term and critical issues before us, an imaginative response even at the risk of some bruised feelings within the party is most definitely in the national interest.”

Under the expected timetable, Conservative MPs will take part in a series of votes to whittle leadership candidates down to two, with Tory members then deciding the winner.

The process could take months, with a new leader expected to be in place before the party conference in October.

Review of Johnson’s statement: Bitter, crotchety and just a little bit petulant

“Johnson was a failure and a disgrace. Now, as he finally falls apart, the Tory party must pick up the pieces and decide what it wants to be: a respectable party of the centre-right, or a deranged populist power fantasy?”  

Text of the statement here.

Rupert Hawksley

Well, I think we can all agree that today we learned something important from our Prime Minister: how not to give a resignation speech.

If you are thinking of leaving your job, you now know to avoid phrases like “herd instinct” and “our brilliant and Darwinian system”. It sort of gives the impression that nothing is your fault and everyone else is to blame. Your colleagues might be a touch ticked off. Not at all good for the leaving party.

It was an extraordinary speech, though, wasn’t it? Bitter, crotchety and just a little bit petulant. “I’m immensely proud of the achievements of this government from getting Brexit done to settling our relations with the continent,” Boris Johnson said outside Downing Street. You’d have to say the word “settling” is doing a lot of heavy lifting there.

Not that any of this really matters; the result is the same. The Prime Minister has resigned. So it’s time to reflect on his premiership and Ian Dunt argues that Johnson will be judged extremely harshly by history.

“There will be three strands to the historic appraisal of Johnson: personal immorality, functional inadequacy and constitutional sabotage. On each one of them, history will damn him.

“Johnson was a failure and a disgrace. Now, as he finally falls apart, the Tory party must pick up the pieces and decide what it wants to be: a respectable party of the centre-right, or a deranged populist power fantasy?”  

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s statement in Downing Street: 7 July 2022

No apologies, no contrition, it’s all a plot – Owl

Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street 

Good afternoon everybody,

It is now clearly the will of the parliamentary conservative party that there should be a new leader of that party

and therefore a new Prime Minister

and I have agreed with Sir Graham Brady

the chairman of our backbench MPs

that the process of choosing that new leader should begin now

and the timetable will be announced next week

and I have today appointed a cabinet to serve – as I will – until a new leader is in place

so I want to say to the millions of people who voted for us in 2019 – many of them voting Conservative for the first time

thank you for that incredible mandate

the biggest Conservative majority since 1987

the biggest share of the vote since 1979

and the reason I have fought so hard for the last few days to continue to deliver that mandate in person

was not just because I wanted to do so

but because I felt it was my job, my duty, my obligation to you to continue to do what we promised in 2019

and of course I am immensely proud of the achievements of this government

from getting Brexit done and settling our relations with the continent after half a century

reclaiming the power for this country to make its own laws in parliament

getting us all through the pandemic

delivering the fastest vaccine rollout in Europe

the fastest exit from lockdown

and in the last few months leading the west in standing up to Putin’s aggression in Ukraine

and let me say now to the people of Ukraine that I know that we in the UK will continue to back your fight for freedom for as long as it takes

and at the same time in this country we have at the same time been pushing forward a vast programme of investment in infrastructure, skills and technology

the biggest for a century

because if I have one insight into human beings

it is that genius and talent and enthusiasm and imagination are evenly distributed throughout the population

but opportunity is not

and that is why we need to keep levelling up

keep unleashing the potential of every part of the United Kingdom

and if we can do that in this country, we will be the most prosperous in Europe

and in the last few days I have tried to persuade my colleagues that it would be eccentric to change governments

when we are delivering so much

and when we have such a vast mandate and when we are actually only a handful of points behind in the polls

even in mid term after quite a few months of pretty unrelenting sledging

and when the economic scene is so difficult domestically and internationally

and I regret not to have been successful in those arguments

and of course it is painful not to be able to see through so many ideas and projects myself

but as we’ve seen at Westminster, the herd is powerful and when the herd moves, it moves and

and my friends in politics no one is remotely indispensable

And our brilliant and Darwinian system will produce another leader equally committed to taking this country forward through tough times

not just helping families to get through it but changing and improving our systems, cutting burdens on businesses and families

and – yes – cutting taxes

because that is the way to generate the growth and the income we need to pay for great public services

and to that new leader I say, whoever he or she may be, I will give you as much support as I can

and to you the British people I know that there will be many who are relieved

but perhaps quite a few who will be disappointed

and I want you to know how sad I am to give up the best job in the world

but them’s the breaks

I want to thank Carrie and our children, to all the members of my family who have had to put up with so much for so long

I want to thank the peerless British civil service for all the help and support that you have given

our police, our emergency services and of course our NHS who at a critical moment helped to extend my own period in office

as well as our armed services and our agencies that are so admired around the world and

[Political content ommitted]

I want to thank the wonderful staff here at Number Ten and of course at chequers and our fantastic protforce detectives – the one group, by the way, who never leak

and above all I want to thank you the British public for the immense privilege you have given me

and I want you to know that from now until the new Prime Minister is in place, your interests will be served and the government of the country will be carried on

Being Prime Minister is an education in itself

I have travelled to every part of the United Kingdom and in addition to the beauty of our natural world

I have found so many people possessed of such boundless British originality and so willing to tackle old problems in new ways that I know that even if things can sometimes seem dark now, our future together is golden.

Thank you all very much.

East Devon politicians react to news of Johnson’s resignation

“Despite the many warnings about his compulsion to spin the truth as it suited him, the Conservative party bought and then sold to the people his epic lies about leaving the European Union.

“The Conservatives owe the country the sincere apology which his resignation speech show yet again is not in his lexicon.”  Paul Arnott

Adam Manning

MP’s and councillors in East Devon have been giving their reaction to the news of Boris Johnson resigning as Conservative leader – and Prime Minister.

We asked East Devon Conservative MP, Simon Jupp, Cllr Paul Arnott, and Tiverton and Honiton Liberal Democrat MP Richard Foord for their reaction to the development, which came after days of resignations and calls for Boris Johnson to stand down. 

Councillor Paul Arnott, leader of East Devon District Council, said: “Boris Johnson, as natural Conservatives such as ex-Telegraph editor Max Hastings predicted long ago, was destined for this date with history.

“Despite the many warnings about his compulsion to spin the truth as it suited him, the Conservative party bought and then sold to the people his epic lies about leaving the European Union.

“The Conservatives owe the country the sincere apology which his resignation speech show yet again is not in his lexicon. 

“Now – and one has to say, astonishingly – this same Tory membership, including the decaying party in East Devon, will have the ultimate say over who is our next prime minister. This is a desperate state for the UK’s democracy. 

“At EDDC’s Full Council on July 20, my administration will be backing a motion calling the Conservatives to agree to electoral reform.

“It is no longer acceptable for us to be governed by an unwritten constitution which allows a charlatan to cling onto the doorframe at 10 Downing Street as, even now, Johnson plainly intends.

“Finally, I think that the resounding vote against the Conservatives in the election of Lib Dem Richard Foord two weeks ago expressed the heartfelt feeling that good local people do not want to be governed in this pompous, self-serving and deceitful way ever again.

“I hope the local Conservative membership has heard this, but I fear they have not.”

Mr Foord, who was elected to Parliament in the Tiverton and Honiton by-election, sweeping away a 24,000 Conservative majority after the resignation of Neil Parish, said: “It has been shameful to see some Conservative MPs in Devon stand loyally by Boris Johnson through the scandals and lies. It is clear they only acted at the very last minute to save their own skin.

“Local people tell me they will never forgive those Conservative MPs for standing by Boris Johnson for so long.

“Conservative MPs have voted through unfair tax hikes on working families, in favour of water companies being allowed to dump raw sewage into our rivers, and supported the scrapping of the triple-lock on pensions.

“It is Conservative MPs, not just Boris Johnson, who have damaged the reputation of our great country in recent months.

“Britain needs change and real leadership to deal with the cost of living crisis and record NHS waiting times. The Conservative party has proven they are just not up to the job.”

Boris Johnson announced today – July 7 that he will step down as Conservative party leader. with a new Tory leader set to be in place by the party conference in October.

Conservative MP Simon Jupp was asked, but did not respond when this article was published. 

However, on Wednesday, he issued a statement calling on the Prime Minister to stand down.