Opperman admits “significant problem” as 360,000 incorrect SP forecasts issued

Pensions Minister Guy Opperman has admitted there has been a “significant problem”, as 3 per cent of online state pension forecasts were erroneous due to issues with HMRC data.

In a letter to Royal London director of policy, Steve Webb, Opperman confirmed that around 360,000 online statements were inconsistent with earlier written statements that savers had received, with the more recent online statements being incorrect.

Webb worked with website This is Money to identify the issue after individuals had reported receiving inconsistent forecasts, in come cases by more than £1,500 per year.

When the issue was initially raised with the Department for Work and Pensions, it said that they were isolated errors which had now been corrected.

However, Opperman said in his letter that people with a “particularly complex work history, where they have transferred between defined benefit schemes, may find that there is a difference between their online forecast and any paper forecast they receive”.

He continued: “In these cases, what has happened is that, for the paper version of the forecast, our staff have intervened to ensure it is correct. When this happens, we work with HMRC to update their work history and provide a revised state pension forecast.”

Commenting on the findings, Webb said: “People are increasingly encouraged to use online services to help plan their retirement, and the new pensions dashboard will rely heavily on such data.

“It is therefore very worrying that hundreds of thousands of people may have received incorrect state pension forecasts and in some cases will have taken decisions about their retirement plans on the basis of incorrect information.

“Now that the government is aware of the scale of the problem, it must put an urgent stop to the issuing of incorrect statements.

“Individuals need to have confidence that the information they receive from the government is accurate and should not have to live with the uncertainty that a statement they have already received may be seriously incorrect”.

Opperman added that he has asked officials to “explore options” to improve the accuracy of the information in national insurance records and how they can use that information to calculate the forecast.

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