Steve Webb launches new campaign to help mums get missing state pension


Refused a state pension? Find out how to check if that was a mistake below (Stock image)

Parents are being urged to check they don’t lose out on state pension at 66 after further serious blunders were uncovered by This is Money and our columnist Steve Webb.

Diane Wilson, 68, was refused a pension several years ago but after our investigation the retired business owner from Scotland is set to receive at least £74 a week.

HMRC missed the 14 years during which she received child benefit off her record, then Department for Work and Pensions staff didn’t pick up on the error when she rang up about claiming a state pension.

Webb, who flags two similar cases below, fears thousands of parents could be affected and that it could be years until the Government fixes these errors.

The former Pensions Minister, now a partner at LCP, has launched a new campaign – Mums Missing Millions – explaining how individuals can get mistakes corrected now, and avoid losing out on thousands of pounds in retirement.

‘Rather than wait for the Government to fix the problem, I would encourage anyone who has received child benefit since 1978/79 to check that the relevant credits are on their NI record,’ he says.

>>>Find a three-step guide below, and visit LCP’s campaign website here.

Fresh state pension error alert

Webb and This is Money previously discovered tens of thousands of elderly women were underpaid a total of around £1.5billion in a state pension scandal affecting those who reached state pension before 2016.

However, women qualifying for their pension since 2016 have suffered from separate government errors.

We recently exposed failures that have led to some women who worked all their lives being wrongly refused a state pension, and their protests not addressed.

Certain cases, like Mrs Wilson’s, have involved HMRC omitting chunks of years where parents claimed child benefit while bringing up children – officially called ‘home responsibilities protection’ – from National Insurance records.

What does the Government say? 

A government spokesperson said: ‘This year we will spend over £110billion on the state pension and support over 12.5million pensioners.

‘We are investigating an issue with the historical recording of Home Responsibilities Protection, with work under way to identify those affected.’

The DWP is aware of a small number of errors affecting people who received child benefit between 1978 and 2010 and most people will not be affected.

It is supporting HMRC, which administers NI records, to investigate the scale of the issue and customers should not contact DWP or HMRC at this time. Information on HRP can be found here.  

Another blunder has affected those who paid ‘married women’s stamp’ for at least one year during the 35 years before they reached state pension age. 

They are are meant to receive around £4,400 a year if they are married, or around £7,400 a year if they are divorced or widowed.

The DWP says where errors occur it is committed to fixing them, but it has denied a review of all recent state pension rejections is now under way.

Webb says the DWP admitted in its latest annual report that missing home responsibilities protection is now the second largest source of state pension errors – after the massive correction exercise involving many elderly women, which is due to run until 2024.

He says HRP errors were already addressed in an £83million exercise a decade ago, but came to light again when the DWP undertook its first full review of fraud and error since 2005-2006, and could easily be of a similar or greater scale this time.

The latest review included phoning up people on low state pensions, which identified cases where parents had received child benefit but this was not on their National Insurance record, according to Webb.

‘The DWP annual report says it is working with HMRC to assess the scale of the problem, but the results will not be known before the Autumn at the earliest.

‘In theory, if DWP and HMRC agree that there is a significant error, they may launch a large scale correction exercise which may pick these errors up at some point.

‘But given that the current exercise to correct state pension errors is due to run until late 2024, there is a risk that these new errors may not be fixed for several years.

Yet again, this error overwhelmingly affects women, and undoubtedly means that many thousands have been underpaid for years.

‘In the meantime, parents will be continuing to lose out through underpaid state pensions, which is why fixing the problem for themselves may be the best strategy.’

Webb adds: ‘Yet again, this error overwhelmingly affects women, and undoubtedly means that many thousands have been underpaid for years.

‘This can be fixed by filling in a form, and the result could well be a higher pension and a worthwhile lump sum.’

Former Pensions Minister and campaigner Ros Altmann says: ‘It seems that the problems with women’s pensions are never-ending.

‘The complexity of our state pension system and administration of records that has relied on two different departments has caused potentially serious losses to older women when DWP and HMRC records are not accurate.

‘It is about time officials recognised the need to improve women’s pensions and I hope as many as possible will take advantage of the LCP calculator to ensure their state pension payments are correct – or to start receiving some state pension if they’ve been wrongly advised they are ineligible.’

Wendy Chamberlain MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Work and Pensions, says: ‘This shows once again that DWP systems are not fit for purpose and women are suffering because of the Government’s errors. 

‘With an emergency budget expected within weeks, it is vital that the DWP funding for their investigations are ringfenced to make sure errors are rectified as soon as possible. 

Refused a state pension? Fight it… 

The failure to grip state pension errors is a stain on the record of the current Government, writes Tanya Jefferies here.

Botching state pensions has lifechanging consequences for many women (it’s almost always though not invariably women).

In the worst cases it unfairly condemns them to poverty. 

‘Pensioners should always get what they are due, but it is indefensible to delay these payments even a day in the current cost of living crisis.’

What to do about missing HRP

Parents who have reached state pension age and are not already receiving a full basic pension of £141.85 a week might be able to add further qualifying years to their National Insurance record by claiming HRP.

Webb offers the following three-step guide, if you suspect your years claiming child benefit are not being counted towards your state pension.

1. Were you entitled – did you claim child benefit during the years from 1978/1979 onwards? 

If your partner claimed, it is possible to swap when the ‘wrong’ parent claims child benefit.

If you paid the married women’s stamp during the same period you claimed child benefit, HRP cannot be used to increase your pension.

Also, if you paid standard rate NI contributions and earned enough for it to be counted as a full year for pension purposes while claiming child benefit, HRP will not increase your pension.

2. Check if your NI record reflects your entitlement here or here.

3. If years are missing, fill in the relevant form and get the information added to your record. Your state pension will then be automatically recalculated and any arrears paid.

The CF411 covers years from April 1978 to April 2010, and the CF411a covers years from 2010 onwards when HRP was replaced by the current system of pension credits.

>>>Find out about married women’s stamp errors, and how to contact Webb and This is Money below.

A 14-year hole in NI record: Business owner wrongly refused state pension

Steve Webb: Rather than wait for the Government to fix the problem, I encourage anyone who has received child benefit since 1978/79 to check relevant credits are on their NI record

Steve Webb: Rather than wait for the Government to fix the problem, I encourage anyone who has received child benefit since 1978/79 to check relevant credits are on their NI record

Diane Wilson says DWP staff told her she did not qualify for a state pension when she rang up about making a claim several years ago.

She had claimed child benefit but she was not alerted to the possibility of an error over ‘home responsibilities protection’ and redirected to HMRC to find out, although her youngest child was born in 1976, meaning that 14 years was missed off her record.

The retired automation business owner, who lives in Scotland, contacted This is Money after reading our stories about state pension mistakes.

‘I’d be interested to know if you can help me,’ she said. ‘The DWP have told me that I have no NI contributions.’

After This is Money investigated, HMRC added Mrs Wilson’s missing years to her National Insurance record, and she is expected to receive at least £74 a week in state pension.

As she was deterred from applying when she reached state pension age, her claim is being treated as a deferred case now, meaning she will get higher payments due to the delay.

‘I might still be getting nothing’: Mother will get £79 a week after challenging zero award

When Helen James tried to apply for her state pension last summer, she was told that she was not entitled to anything because she did not have the minimum 10 years of contributions.

Mrs James, 67, and her husband have two children and she spent much of the 1970s and 1980s raising her family.

Over the years she has also worked in a school and a local shop, and cared for her grandson.

Her rejection for a state pension didn’t seem right to Mrs James, and she got in touch with Steve Webb and made a successful claim for 12 years of home responsibilities protection from 1978 to 1990.

This means she will receive a weekly pension of just over £79 and a lump sum of over £4,000 for the money she should already have received.

Mrs James says: ‘It is quite wrong that I was told I wasn’t entitled to any pension, and if my daughter hadn’t read press coverage about the issue I might still be getting nothing.

‘I would encourage any mother who has been turned down for a pension to challenge the decision and get it checked.’

‘I welcome this new campaign’: Care home manager is now on full pension

Ros Altmann: Complexity of state pension system and administration of records that has relied on two different departments has caused potentially serious losses to older women

Ros Altmann: Complexity of state pension system and administration of records that has relied on two different departments has caused potentially serious losses to older women

Lorraine Wainwright, 68, was awarded a state pension based on 31 qualifying years in 2020, but seven years of HRP were wrongly missed off her record.

Mrs Wainwright and her husband, who live in Gloucestershire, have two children and she claimed child benefit while looking after them during the 1970s and early 1980s.

For many years, she ran a care home for people with learning disabilities alongside her husband.

Mrs Wainwright realised she had not received HRP for several years from 1978/79 onwards. She first tried to have her record put straight in early 2020, but the matter remained unresolved.

HMRC says it tried to find out more information from Mrs Wainwright when she first filled in a form to get HRP in 2020, but couldn’t get an answer. After it received her second form this year, it awarded her seven years of HRP.

This is enough to boost her state pension by more than £20 a week to the full flat rate of a £185.15 a week.

She has now received a lump sum of around £1,500 in arrears for the underpayment since she retired.

Mrs Wainwright says: ‘I would encourage any parent who spent time bringing up children to check that they are getting credits on their NI record.

‘If I had not checked my own record carefully, it is quite possible I would still be getting the wrong rate of pension. I welcome this new campaign, which could help thousands of mothers to get their dues.’

What about the married women’s stamp

A little-known rule means women who paid the ‘married women’s stamp’ towards the state pension can still benefit from it now.

Women retiring from April 2016 onwards get state pension payments based on their own National Insurance record not their husband’s.

But there is a special concession for those who paid the stamp for at least one year during the 35 years before they reached state pension age.

You can claim £85.00 a week if still married or £141.85 if you are widowed or divorced, based on this year’s rates.

If you paid the stamp and think you qualify, contact the DWP or fill in a state pension pension claim form, even if you have previously been told you don’t qualify.

Contacting This is Money

If you were refused a state pension or are receiving less than £141.85 per week and think there has been an error, you can also email This is Money at pensionquestions@thisismoney.co.uk.

Please put DWP CLAIMS in the subject line and include:

– Your date of birth, and if applicable those of your spouse and children

– Your basic state pension figure, if any – this can be found on your annual statement

– Whether you earned HRP or paid married women’s stamp, and in which years as best as you can remember

– Your phone number – this will only be used to follow up this issue, not used for marketing purposes.

How much is the state pension?

The basic state pension is currently £141.85 a week, or around £7,400 a year.  It is topped up by additional state pension entitlements – S2P and Serps – accrued during working years. 

The two-tier state system was replaced in 2016 by a new ‘flat rate’ state pension. This is currently worth £185.15 a week or around £9,600 a year.

People who have contracted out of S2P and Serps over the years and retire after April 2016 get less than the full new state pension. 

But they can fill gaps in unpaid and or underpaid National Insurance in previous years, make voluntary top-ups to buy extra qualifying years, and build up more years if they have enough time between now and state pension age.

Workers needed to have 30 years of qualifying National Insurance contributions to get the old state pension, but they now need to have 35 years of contributions to get the new flat rate state pension.

But even if you paid in full for a whole 35 years, if you contracted out for some years on top of that it might still reduce what you get. 

Everyone gets the option of deferring their state pension to get more in their later years. You can check your NI record here.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk