Socialist Worker

Tories back pension scandal that cost women ‘over £100 million’

Issue No. 2713

Women have faced repeated attacks on their pensions from the Tories

Women have faced repeated attacks on their pensions from the Tories (Pic: James Ito/Flickr)


The government has refused to identify and contact women who could have missed out on over £100 million in state ­pension payments.

This affects women covered by the “old” state pension system—those who reached state pension age before 6 April 2016.

Under this system, married women could claim a state pension worth 60 percent of their husband’s when he retired. The same rules applied to widows and divorced women.

Before 2008, they had to claim for this pension themselves. But when women became eligible, the government only told their husbands.

The robbery means “tens of thousands of women” could be entitled to compensation and a higher pension rate, according to research published in May.

But the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has confirmed it will only “encourage” women who think they may be affected to get in touch.

The rate means the wife of a man now receiving the maximum state pension of £134.25 a week should get at least £80.45.

Many have received much less. Retired secretary Terri Fisher said she has been underpaid for nearly 13 years.

She has been getting £63.10 a week instead of £80.45, and so has missed out on over £900 in the last year alone.

She wants a full backdated payment for all of the years where she has lost money. “It is shocking,” she said. “It is not their money, it is my money.”

Anita Wager also said her pension was lower than it should be by over £20 a week.

She gets just £59.07. “I am a bit miffed,” she said. “If was entitled to it. I should be able to have it now.”

Yet the DWP will only backdate the money people have lost for the last year—if they get in touch, that is.


Tories fail on test results

Boris Johnson pledged that everyone tested for Covid-19 in Britain would get their results within 24 hours by the end of last month.

But NHS Test and Trace data released last week showed that nearly half of all results—45 percent—were received after 24 hours.

Experts say getting results out fast and carrying out contact tracing immediately is vital to stopping the virus from spreading.

But the system seems to be getting worse.

Just 70.8 percent of close contacts of infected patients were successfully reached and asked to self‑isolate between 25 June and 1 July.

The figure was 90.7 percent in the system’s first week of operation.

Johnson’s official spokesperson helpfully said, “We need to do more.”

 


Bosses in furlough fraud

A man in the Solihull area in the West Midlands is the first person to be arrested over suspected fraud relating to the furlough scheme.

The scheme sees the Tories pay bosses to cover some of the wages of workers who would otherwise have been laid off due to the virus crisis.

The man was arrested on Wednesday of last week as part of an investigation into a suspected £495,000 fraud of the scheme.

He was also arrested on a suspected multi-million pound tax fraud and alleged money laundering offences.

HM Revenue & Customs said it had received over 4,400 reports of suspected fraud linked to the furlough scheme up until the end of June.

Some 1.1 million bosses have claimed over £27.4 billion through the scheme.


Cops shoot woman in Liverpool and use restraint

A woman is in a critical condition in hospital after cops shot her in a street in Toxteth, Liverpool, on Thursday of last week.

Officers were called after reports of a woman armed with a knife.

The woman suffered an injury to her upper body as a result of the shooting.

Shooting the woman didn’t stop cops from restraining her.

One eyewitness said, “I heard a loud bang and then she was on the floor. Police were all around her on the floor. She was handcuffed while they gave her first aid and they were shouting for people to get back and turn their phones off.”

Merseyside Police said the shooting had been referred to the cops’ watchdog IOPC, which has begun an investigation.


Three cops allegedly exchanged racist comments on a WhatsApp group under an image of the actor and writer Kayode Ewumi.

One officer posted a meme of Ewumi as his character Reece Simpson in BBC Three comedy Hood Documentary.

Under the image, a second officer wrote, “monkey” then posted an image of a baby monkey.

Another officer wrote “lol” underneath the image.


Remainer chief spins Hong Kong repression

Hong Kong’s authorities are having a hard time selling a new security law imposed by China to its general population.

So who better to pull in to help than the former director of strategy of Britain’s failed Remain campaign?

The Hong Kong government awarded a £5 million public relations contract to Consulum, based in Mayfair, London, before the security law came into force. The money is part of its Relaunch Hong Kong campaign.

The authority said Consulum would “rebuild confidence in Hong Kong as a place to invest, do business, work and live”.

The account is being led by Ryan Coetzee. He worked on the failed 2016 Remain campaign during the Brexit referendum. Before that, he was special adviser to deputy prime minister Nick Clegg during the Lib Dems’ coalition with the Tories. His other current roles include boosting the reputation of Saudi Arabia.


G4S gets discount on fine

Security firm G4S has been fined £44 million. It is part of an agreement that will see it avoid prosecution for overcharging the Ministry of Justice for the electronic tagging of offenders, some of whom had died.

G4S accepted responsibility for three counts of fraud so received a 40 percent discount in the fine.

The total paid out by outsourcing firms involved tagging scandal is more than £250 million.


Record calls for redundancy advice

Citizens Advice is receiving calls once every two minutes from people who need redundancy advice.

The charity said the surge in calls reflects an “escalating employment crisis”.

Its benefit advice web pages have also received record traffic—some 4.4 million views since 23 March.

The news came as firms across Britain announced sweeping job cuts.


Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.