I’m pleased to hear that Steve Webb’s campaign to encourage us to get our (or our mother’s fair share of the state pension has already been a success.
LCP report that over 20,000 people have already used its calculator and that the flow of interest shows no sign of abating. Those who use the calculator land on the link to the LCP report I mentioned in yesterday’s blog (for which I got a number of requests). For those who want to understand the issues Steve Webb is raising – here is the link. (you don’t have to pretend to be your Mum here!)
Freedom of information has been critical to my sanity over the past nine weeks. Without the COVID-19 actuaries teaching me how to read ONS and other reports, I would have felt myself a pawn in the chess game of the Downing Street briefings.
DWP FOI and the absence of briefing
But even Steve Webb, till recently a DWP Minister, cannot get the information he needs to help Mums and Grandmas and elderly spinsters to their proper state pension.
I understand that after his first Freedom Of Information request in February (FOI) , he tabled a follow up to get more details (so he wouldn’t have to make so many guesstimates for his report); it went in on Feb 28.
At the end of Mar (the normal deadline) The DWP said that because of Coronavirus they would be delayed in replying; but another two months later they still haven’t replied; it feels like they’ve furloughed FOI.
The DWP has form on this. The WASPI women are seething with indignation that they haven’t been informed and now we have one of their former ministers in the same boat!
The matter is at its most stark for the over 80 year old women. To remind you of the entitlement;-
Once you reach 80 you are entitled to a state pension of £80.45 a week if your existing state pension is less than that or you do not get one at all. To qualify you must be
- aged 80 or more
- live in the UK or the EU when you reached 80 or when you claim
- have lived in England, Scotland, or Wales for at least ten years out of the last twenty.
It is not means-tested and does not depend on your National Insurance record. The full rules are here.
If you are over 80 but get less state pension than £80.45 or none at all then claim it now. It can be backdated up to a year. (details from Paul Lewis)
The one major exception is that people living outside the UK in a country where the state pension is frozen – (it does not rise with inflation) – may well be getting less than £80.45 a week and not be entitled to any top up.
The over 80s pension (known by the DWP as Category D) is the closest thing we have in the UK to a citizens or basic income; there is no NI test, just a residence test.
I find it really hard to believe that the large numbers of over 80 year old women Steve Webb found getting less than the flat £80.45 all failed the residence test
When you get to 80 , the rules become simpler and that’s to make sure no-one gets left behind.
It is shocking that there is still – in this simple environment – doubt over the payment of the full £80.45 to resident pensioners. That doubt could be put aside by the DWP publishing the information requested.
If there are underpayments, then quick restitution should follow.
COVID-19 is not a good reason to defer the publication of this information. Infact it is all the more reason to make sure that the basic entitlement to older women (less than £4,500 p.a) is paid in full.
So come on DWP- do the work – you’re not in furlough.
You have not been granted leave of absence by your customers nor has Steve Webb furloughed his inquiry.
You can claim your extra pension either online at the Pension Service or call free 0800 169 0154.