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Public Sector: Pensions

Volume 487: debated on Monday 2 February 2009

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the circumstances and extent of the overpayment of public sector pensions by Xafinity Paymaster. (245208)

I have been asked to reply.

I refer the hon. Member to the written statement I gave to the House on 16 December 2008, Official Report, column 111WS. This explained the circumstances in which pension overpayments occurred and indicated the estimated number and amount of the overpayments.

A number of different parties are involved in the process. Xafinity Paymaster administers pensions on behalf of the NHS and armed forces schemes. Cabinet Office, judicial and teachers’ schemes use different administrators. The causes of the overpayments have been investigated by pension scheme administrators, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs and Department for Work and Pensions. From their investigations it is clear that there is no single cause. The National Audit Office will be carrying out a review of the end to end process in due course in order to pin-point accountabilities. The House will be updated further once this review has concluded.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he will terminate the contract of Xafinity Paymaster in relation to the administration of public sector pensions; (245209)

(2) what steps are being taken to obtain repayment from Xafinity Paymaster in respect of the overpayment by them of public sector pensions.

I have been asked to reply.

The written statement I gave to the House on 16 December 2008, Official Report, column 111WS, explained the circumstances in which pension overpayments occurred. A number of different parties are involved in the process. Xafinity Paymaster pays pensions on behalf of the NHS and armed forces schemes. Cabinet Office, judicial and teachers' schemes use different pension administrators. I cannot comment on contractual issues which are delegated to individual Departments.

The causes of the overpayments have been investigated by pension scheme administrators, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs and Department for Work and Pensions. From their investigations it is clear that there is no single cause. The National Audit Office will be carrying out a review of the end to end process in due course in order to pin-point accountabilities. The House will be updated further once this review has concluded. Accountability for the overpayments, and any action that needs to be taken as a result, will not be clear until the NAO has completed its review.