Over 1/3 of pensioners receive wrong benefits payments - Willott

November 3, 2008 12:00 AM

More than 1 in 3 pensioners claiming pension credit are receiving the wrong amount, research by the Liberal Democrats has revealed.

Statistics on fraud and error, released by the Department of Work and Pensions, show that the officials are to blame for a large majority of the mistakes leading to the incorrect payments.

The research revealed that:

· 36.5% of all pension credit payments are incorrect - this represents more than 1 million pensioners' claims

· 84% of the mistakes were caused by official error - this is three times more than the number of cases that were incorrect due to errors made by pensioners and 20 times more than those due to fraud

· Official mistakes have led to £760m being overpaid and £412m being underpaid in pension credit since its introduction in 2003

· The latest figures show that official error in the pension credit system caused £200m in overpayments and £90m in underpayments last year

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Jenny Willott said,

"Pension credit is so complex even officials can't understand it. It is no wonder that so many people are put off claiming it.

"It is outrageous that money that should be going to hard-up pensioners is not reaching them.

"The Government must scrap complicated benefits for pensioners and introduce a universal, higher state pension which increases in line with wages. This is the only way to deliver a fair deal for all pensioners."

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