‘Normal service will be resumed by the end of October 2021″ -DWP

I hope Guy Opperman’s promise that those due their state pension , some for 6 months or more, will get their payments with more than an apology. The short term blip in service is being blamed by the Minister on Covid

‘The Department is working hard to clear backlogs which have occurred by reason of the Covid Pandemic and staffing issues which have now been rectified. Hundreds of additional staff are currently being redeployed.’

These staff were originally redeployed to sort out problems with underpayments to 132,000 ( female) pensioners after the loss of their partners.

With the bad taste of Waspi lingering, the cumulative impact of these issues is bringing the state pension into disrepute. It is very important that the payment of the state pension remains a right and not a matter of “when we get our heads round this pandemic”.

Not on our watch?

The impact of non-payment of the state pension is spelt out in the Daily Mail’s This is Money website which features Ros Altmann and Steve Webb, bemoaning the current situation.

It should be pointed out that both Ros and Steve were full ministers in the past ten years and that it’s being left to a Junior Minister (Guy Opperman) to sort this out. These problems did not come to light on their watch , but they have been brewing for some time and we didn’t hear much about an impending crisis between 2011 and 2017.

The irascible Steve Groves makes this point , commenting on my blog yesterday on the issues surrounding universal and pensions credit.


Steve Groves

Yes, absolutely the job of the industry years after a change that it wasn’t consulted on to fix the details incompetent politicians conveniently ignored.

It’s almost as if an ex-politician involved in the changes helped come up with that conclusion 😝

Political accountability

I’m not with Steve Groves here but nor am I with Steve Webb or Ros Altmann. Where the problems with the State Pension differ from those with Universal Credit is that the State Pension has always been the DWP’s responsibility while Pension Freedoms were thrust upon the DWP by the Treasury without any modelling of the consequences.

We are now 7 years since George Osborne announced the Freedoms and (just as with Waspi), the DWP seem to be slow to be helping those impacted by change, to understand how to deal with it. Steve Webb has often taken the credit for Pension Freedoms though it doesn’t appear he had much to do with their creation. The creation of the Single State Pension was on his watch and he is right to take credit for that. But he cannot cherry-pick glory for the successes without accepting that changes to state pensions need major investment in support for those impacted.

But I do not agree with Steve Groves that this is all about incompetent politicians , failing departments and inter- departmental rivalries. This is all about political priorities and , as with those impacted by the net pay anomaly, the voice of those on low incomes with the prospect of high dependency on the state pension is a low priority for Government.

Which should bother Guy Opperman as the first Minister for pensions and financial inclusion. The private sector has been failing to concern itself with these issues and it is good that LCP – led by Steve Webb, is taking a lead. We should be kicking Government’s arse but also helping out where we can.

High dependency – low priority

For a wealthy pensioner , enjoying the benefits of a healthy private pension and the services of the wealth management industry, the delay in payment of a state pension is a cash-flow inconvenience. For those on no income, and there are many involuntarily entering retirement today as the furlough unwinds, the state pension is all that the income they are likely to be getting. Not getting that income is bad news.

Which is why the DWP needs to be prioritizing sorting this out. We have Guy Opperman’s promise that immediate rectification is around the corner. But the long-term problems at the DWP appear to be systemic and we do not seem to have found a way of arming people with the information they need to take difficult decisions around the management of their wages in retirement.

In the short- term, the private sector, can – and should, be heightening awareness of these issues. I intend to develop the AgeWage app so that we help people on benefits to the LCP site and to Gareth Morgan’s excellent calculators. But people should not need to go through these convoluted calculations and take guidance from actuaries , to ensure they don’t trip over their benefits when drawing an income from their pension savings.

Government needs to create a higher priority for those with the greatest dependence on state benefits and that includes the state pension as well as universal and pension credit. It also means a focus on the net pay issue.


About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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2 Responses to ‘Normal service will be resumed by the end of October 2021″ -DWP

  1. kate upcraft says:

    it might be a good idea if both DWP and HMRC staff were all back in offices. Private sector employers, retailers and the like are well aware that they can’t deliver their service from home pandemic or not and yet it’s been OK for what was already poor service to become dire to the ‘customers’ of government departments that we all rely on as businesses and individuals.

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