Tag Archives: department for work and pensions

“Mind blowing” errors in pensions

Are you using software on your laptop that dates back to the 1980s? It sounds unlikely, although some standard office applications do go back that far –  a pre-cursor to Word was first launched in 1983 but it has gone through massive development since then. Indeed everyone who uses it is aware of its frequent upgrades and patches.

However it seems the Government is still using software dating from the 1980s which has not been properly maintained and updated. The BBC reports that millions of people have been receiving an incorrect pension for years, because of the failure to update the Pension Strategy Computer System to take account of Graduated Retirement Benefit.

It seems the individual discrepancies may be quite small, with some pensioners being overpaid and others underpaid, but the accumulated impact could be large. And last year a different issue was found with the system which had resulted in substantial underpayments for 134,000 people.

But the truly worrying fact is that this error has been known about for at least 20 years. Apparently the DWP decided it would be too complicated to fix.

Steve Webb – the Lib Dem pensions guru and former Pensions Minister – says:

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Time to scrap disability assessments and bring them in house

With each month passing there is more and more evidence that now is the time to bring an end to the failed DWP disability assessments and private outsourcing by companies such as Maximus and Capita and bring all assessments in house.

Appeal success rates for those that go to tribunal  for both Personal Independence Payment and Employment and support allowance are at their highest rates ever, with success rates of 73% for Pip and 74% for ESA. This is an increase of 4% and 5 % respectively.

At the same time, waiting times for mandatory reconsiderations, which a claimant has to go through before appealing to a tribunal has increased by 86%. Average waiting times for a reconsideration have increased from 32 days to 54 days. This leaves many sick and disabled people in a severe financial hardship. This is totally unacceptable and is it any wonder that the use of food banks is at an all time high. The success rate of PIP Mandatory reconsiderations stands at a measly 19%. That is 2 opportunities that the DWP has had to get an assessment correct and fail and nearly three quarters of those people who go on to appeal are successful at tribunal. This is simply unsustainable, on top of the human suffering that this costs, there is the financial costs to the DWP and the justice department all because the private healthcare assessment providers and the DWP are failing to do their jobs. The system is broken.

There is also evidence of a canteen culture of contempt  at the DWP. In official tribunal papers for a woman’s appeal to Personal Independance Payments by a welfare official for the department of work and pensions, they wrote

In this lying bitches case she is receiving the mid-rate carers allowance component for providing day time supervision to another disabled person. The tribunal may wish to explore this further.

 

The mother of small children has a degenerative condition affecting her heart and lungs that leaves her prone to infection and in constant pain. 

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 41 Comments
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