26 September 2023

UNITED KINGDOM: Union says pensioners unfairly treated

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The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) says attempts to recover millions of pounds in over-payments to United Kingdom Public Service pensioners are unfair as poor administration is to blame for the errors.

The union, which represents some 200,000 current and former Public Servants, said the over-payments date back 15 years.

The pensions administrator, MyCSP said more than 2,000 former Public Servants were facing repayments totalling £2.7 million ($A5.2 million).

Chief Executive of MyCSP, Mike Thurstan said people had been over-paid by an average of £1,200 ($A2,311), with the highest bill reaching £34,000 ($A65,500).

General Secretary of the PCS, Mark Serwotka said the maladministration involved was serious.

“We believe the root cause was the rush to outsource pension administration and shared services and it is simply unacceptable to subject pensioners to hardship and distress years later as a result,” Mr Serwotka said.

He called on the Cabinet Office, which is ultimately responsible for the pension scheme, to write off the over-payments.

However, the Department has refused, saying Treasury guidance on managing public money means it must try to recover the cash.

The most recent tranche of letters sent to pensioners warn that if they do not begin paying the money back within 28 days, MyCSP will automatically put them on a repayment plan.

“We will deduct your over-payment from your pension each month until we have recovered the over-payment in full,” the letters said.

PCS claims this demand is misleading, as the Pensions Ombudsman has still to rule on whether the issue relates to maladministration.

“PCS advice not to agree to repay at this stage still stands,” Mr Serwotka said.

Responding to the union’s statement, a Cabinet Office spokesperson said: “We recognise the inconvenience this will cause some former employees, but we are obliged to recover over-payments where it will be of benefit to the taxpayer to do so.”

London, 6 December 2019

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