The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has hardly covered itself with pride during the pandemic.
When it emerged in May last year that potentially thousands of wives and widows were not getting the pensions they were entitled to, the department declined to tell us how many of them would have been shortchanged.
Questions from lawmakers put before Pensions Minister Guy Opperman in Parliament were answered with little effort or concern. Parliament was simply told that the department was aware of ‘many cases’, and the minister encouraged anyone who thought they might be paid less to contact the DWP.
Lifeline: When it emerged that potentially thousands of wives and widows were not getting the right pension, the DWP declined to say how many would have been short-changed.
Yet those who were worried they were missing were forced to wait for hours on the phone to talk to someone. And when they finally did, they were often deceived and, in some cases, wrongly told that their pension was right.
The real scale of the scam came to light only in March this year. Documents published on Budget Day revealed that potentially 200,000 women were underpaid and that it would cost around £3 billion to correct.
Now the taxpayers are being treated with equal contempt during this latest turmoil.
The minister again this month ignored a request from a fellow MP for details on delays in pension payments, and instead insisted that there were only a ‘small number’ of hold-ups.
Yet we have heard countless stories of pensioners struggling to earn significant income.
And the chaos is not limited to pension pay. We’ve heard from those in need who were denied access to other significant benefit payments.
MoneyMail has written a lot about customer service disasters during the pandemic – with Covid still being used as an excuse for long call wait times or missing paperwork.
But people calling DWP aren’t asking for help with a refund for their broadband or a small change, they’re chasing the money they depend on and deserve.
As we reveal today, for one in four retired women, they have a state pension. This is why the ongoing turmoil in DWP is unforgivable.
The Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman ruled this summer that the DWP had failed to properly warn millions of women that their state pension age was rising from 60 to 66.
And now that those women are turning 66, they have to wait even longer because of more blunders on the part of the department.
Every extra day these women born in the 1950s have to wait for their state pension is a disgrace. But keeping them in the dark again is even more humiliating.
In this hour of need, the performance of DWP has not only been found to be disappointing, it has also been shameful.
It is welcome news that the Financial Conduct Authority is pushing to help the nation invest better.
Many of us are too cautious to reap the benefits of investing, and many of us are too greedy to do so wisely.
Investing is a safe way to make your savings more difficult for you, and with interest rates so low, it’s important not to leave your nest egg at the mercy of inflation in a poorly paid account.
It’s a shame that so many people are missing out because they don’t have the confidence or knowledge to invest.
Still, on the other end of the spectrum, the pandemic has seen many, especially young, investors charging – throwing money they might be ill-equipped to lose on highly risky and unreasonable investments.
He has been inspired by celebrities and influencers on social media to promote volatile cryptocurrency or imprecise forex trading.
An appalling 2.3 million people now own cryptocurrencies, the regulator revealed this month. And 14 percent of them borrowed money to do it.
The sheer scale of unintentional and reckless investments is shocking and will surely lead to tears. Let’s hope it doesn’t leave it too long for FCA to take action.