United Kingdom

BEN WILKINSON: No one should miss out on their pension

Another troubling crack has been found in this country's state pension system.

Analysis today reveals there are more than 100,000 over-80s who, in theory, are entitled to a state pension but do not claim anything at all. 

These won't be people who do not need the money; they'll be totally unaware that there is £4,000 a year with their name on it, waiting to be claimed.

Analysis today reveals there are more than 100,000 over 80s who, in theory, are entitled to a state pension, but do not claim anything at all

But the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is not obliged to let these people know that they are missing out on money that they are entitled to.

It comes after a huge scandal unravelled last year when former pensions minister Sir Steve Webb found tens of thousands of older women were missing out on better pensions due to Government administration errors that will now cost billions to rectify.

Many more married women will have missed out on even more money over the years because they did not know that they had to make a claim to get an increased pension rate based on their husband's work record before 2008.

The scandal over the underpaid married women exposed how flawed the state pension payments system is. This latest story underlines just how badly it is failing those who most need it.

The state pension, like Jobseeker's Allowance or any other benefit, needs to be claimed. But how many of us knew that the over-80s are entitled to a state pension purely because of their age? And how many of us would turn down £82.45 a week?

To the thousands of people over 80 without any state pension whatsoever, this extra cash could be life-changing. For some it could pay for a wonderful holiday while, for others, it may be enough to keep them out of poverty.

It is dreadful to think that the elderly and infirm are being deprived of a fair pension simply because they do not know the complexities of the system.

The DWP now automatically upgrades pensions of married women and widows if they are entitled to more money. So why is the onus still on the over-80s to make a claim?

The Government is having to spend £3 billion tracing and paying back around 200,000 underpaid married women. If 100,000 over-80s come forward to claim their £82.45 weekly pension, this will hit the DWP with a bill for another £400 million every year.

The state pension is so much more than a benefit to some people, it is a lifeline. It could be the difference between a comfortable retirement and a miserable one.

The Government has a duty of care to ensure no one misses out.

Lacking energy

Money Mail's postbag is a good barometer. If we are inundated with letters and complaints about a provider or an issue, we can be confident that there is something of note going on.

We've received countless complaints about energy firm Eon in recent months.

A common theme is a sudden demand for thousands of pounds — usually down to a mistaken meter reading.

We must have sent dozens of these complaints to Eon, so imagine our dismay when the firm came back to say these were all isolated cases with no single root cause. 

Can I politely suggest Eon makes a bit more of an effort to determine why it has upset so many of its customers?

After all, we are not being deluged with complaints about any other energy firm at present.

Amazon grace

A recent poll has revealed that a third of us feel guilty after shopping with online titan Amazon.

It found that we feel 'buyer's remorse' after shunning smaller businesses to enjoy speedy next-day delivery.

So here's a reminder that you can shed some of that guilt by ensuring a small percentage of the money you spend goes to charity.

Simply visit smile.amazon.co.uk and pick a charity. So far, £202 billion has been donated to good causes.

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