Women on £1-a-week state pensions could be owed tens of thousands of pounds, the BBC has learned.
Until recently, Carole Davies, 76, from Merstham in Surrey, was told she was entitled to less than £1 a week. “When I retired in 2003, my state pension was so low – 40p a week – I was told that it would be paid once a year,” she told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“Despite my husband Michael questioning this after he retired in 2005, we were told I wasn’t due anything more.” Mrs. Davies, a stay-at-home mum who worked in an administrative role for only a short period of time, had built up almost no entitlement to a state pension in her own right, as she had not built up enough National Insurance (NI) contributions.
Every week, for more than 15 years, she had been underpaid, not knowing she was actually eligible for a married woman’s pension. After watching a TV program about pensions in November, she decided to contact the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) again, convinced she should be getting more.
Over 1.3 million adults of pension age live in poverty – that is more than one in 10 of our elderly population struggling with debt, according to the poverty charity Turn2us. “This money is going to make such a meaningful and positive difference to the finances of women affected,” said Anna Stevenson, a welfare benefit expert at Turn2us.
“It is going to mean not having to worry about where the next meal comes and paying off those bills that have been looming large.” She added that it was vital that the DWP “not let anyone slip through the net”.
“It is worrying that they plan to take five years to reimburse everyone. It is vital people get their money as soon as possible,” she said.