“Billion pound mountain to climb” as DWP ‘grinds away’ at correcting state pension errors – Steve Webb, LCP

by | Mar 23, 2023

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New figures published today[1] by DWP show that efforts to correct errors on underpaid state pensions, which started in January 2021, have so far resulted in just over 46,000 people receiving payments worth a total of £300 million. 

The breakdown between married women (who missed an uplift when their husband retired), widows (who missed an uplift when their husband died) and the over 80s (who were on a low pension and missed an uplift when they turned 80) is shown in the table:

However, the latest DWP annual report, published in Summer 2022, estimated that the total amount which would eventually have to be paid would be £1.46 billion to 237,000 people.  This suggests that the DWP has still to track down more than a billion pounds worth of underpayments.  And there are still about 190,000 people (or their estates) who are receiving / received the wrong amount of pension.

Progress towards this target has been slow.  The previous update (published in November 2022) showed that at the end of October 2022 just over £200m had been paid out.  This suggests that the payment rate is now running at roughly £25m being paid out each month.  At this rate it could take more than three more years to complete the task, with an end date somewhere in late 2026. 


Commenting, Steve Webb, partner at LCP who played a key role in unearthing the errors said:“The scale of these state pension errors is so great that DWP still has a billion pound mountain to climb in terms of identifying underpayments and putting them right.  It is vital that the Department devotes extra resources to make sure that huge numbers of people are moved on to the correct rate of pension as a matter of urgency.  With the current cost of living crisis it is hard enough for older people to cope, without having to get by on a pension which is too low due to official error”.

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