Woman among 130,000 Brits owed £1bn in missed pension payments

Jan Tiernan has spent years fighting to be reimbursed by the Department for Work and Pensions. 

Woman among 130,000 Brits owed £1bn in missed pension payments STV News

A woman from Fife is among more than 130,000 Brits who are owed £1bn in missed pension payments dating back to 1985.

Jan Tiernan believes she was shortchanged by £19,000 as a result of a series of errors by the Department for Work and Pensions.

She has spent years fighting to be reimbursed, with the errors mostly affect widows, divorcees and women who rely on their husband’s pension contributions for some of their pension.

Complex pension rules and a reliance on highly manual systems led to the underpayment.

Jan has sent dozens of letters over the last three years to the Department of Work and Pensions pleading for the money she says she is due.

She said she only realised she hadn’t been paid enough in her pension after watching a TV show, believing she’s only received around a tenth of what she is owed.

“I’m really angry, it’s not just the £30 for me, it’s the £30 for all the people who really, really needed it and that’s wrong,” she told STV News.

“It’s money we should have had to spend the way we wanted to spend it

“They made a mistake and the maladministration in that office, the DWP, at that time and since that time has been scandalous.”

Dame Meg Hiller MP, chair of the Westminster parliamentary committee set up to look into the issue, has branded the situation “a shameful shambles”.

“In the DWP there are lots of different IT systems that aren’t really talking to each other, and when there’s a question on some of these pensions, particularly for women of this age group, they weren’t talking to each other and it required a very experienced member of staff to try and work out what was needed,” she said. 

“When women began to realise there might be a problem and asked questions, the department was a bit slow in picking up that this wasn’t just a few women, but actually much more systemic.”

People are being encouraged to seek help if they think they’ve been affected.

Adam Stachura from Age Scotland said: “DWP have identified 134,000 people they estimate are eligible for this, if they haven’t heard already they’re probably going to get in touch but if you really think that you’ve been underpaid, it is right to go and get in touch with them

“You might also want to get in touch with your MP if you’re finding that a bit slower or people at Age Scotland can help if you call our helpline on 0800 12 44 222.”

A DWP spokesperson said: “Resolving the historical state pension underpayments that have been made by successive governments is a priority for the department and we are committed to doing so as quickly as possible.

“We have set up a dedicated team and devoted significant resources to processing outstanding cases, and have introduced new quality control processes and improved training to help ensure this does not happen again. Those affected will be contacted by us to ensure they receive all that they are owed.

“We are carefully considering the content of the Public Accounts Committee’s report and will respond formally in due course.”

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