'DWP must communicate better after smashing pension hopes'

The new system replaces the basic and additional pensions for people reaching the state retirement age from 6 April 2016

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The Independent Online

MPs have today told the Department for  Work and Pensions (DWP) that it urgently needs to improve the information it sends to people reaching retirement age, after evidence showed that many women are confused over their state pension entitlement.

“Successive governments have bungled the fundamental duty to tell women of major changes to when they can expect their state pension,” said Frank Field, chairman of the Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee.

The new system introduced under the Pensions Act 2014 replaces the basic and additional pensions for people reaching the state retirement age from 6 April 2016. 

But an investigation by the committee has confirmed that confusion over what people will receive from the new state pension – and when they will receive it - is rife. 

One witness to the inquiry reported: “A letter in January 2005 from the Pension Service contained no increase in my state pension age, so I still believed I was going to receive my state pension at 60. 

“I was then notified by the Pension Service in January 2012, two and a half years before my 60th birthday, that I would not be receiving my state pension until I was nearly 66.”

Last week, after a House of Commons debate, MPs unanimously voted by 158 to 0 to help women who have not been adequately informed of state pension age rises.

“Retirement expectations have been smashed as some women have only been told a couple of years before the date they expected to retire that no such retirement pension is now available,” Mr Field explained.

The committee said it expects the DWP to hammer out a new pension entitlement notice immediately and begin supplying all women with accurate information.

Tom McPhail, head of retirement policy at the adviser Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Just a few months before its launch, the Government is scrambling to get its new state pension statements fit for purpose despite having have had years to prepare. Poor decision making, and complacency regarding the importance of good communication, have undermined what were fundamentally good policies.”

Meanwhile, an online petition set up by the campaigning group Women Against State Pension Inequality (Waspi) at the parliamentary website passed the 115,000 mark yesterday. 

That could lead to a fresh House of Commons debate.