(2) what financial corrections were made by the Government in respect of reminders for voluntary pensions contributions in each year between 1996 and 2002; and whether those corrections were made only in respect of individuals who had previously made voluntary pension contributions;
(3) how much has been paid in pension back payments to overseas residents who did not receive reminders about their voluntary pension contributions in each year between 1996 and 2002.
For the tax years 1996-07 to 2001-02 deficiency notices inviting customers with gaps in their national insurance records to pay voluntary contributions were temporarily suspended. Following the suspension my Department was responsible for contacting those people who reached state pension age between 6 April 1998 and 24 October 2004, and were due to receive a deficiency notice for one of more of the above tax years. An exercise started in September 2004 to contact such customers, where it would be beneficial for them to consider paying voluntary contributions.
Regulations allow for any customer who reached state pension age between 6 April 1998 and 24 October 2004 to pay voluntary contributions for the tax years 1996-07 to 2001-02. It is not possible to identify separately those who have made voluntary contributions after contact by my Department and those who have made them through their own inquiries. To date, following payment of voluntary contributions by individual customers, arrears of state pension amounting to £84.2 million have been paid to customers in Great Britain and £30 million to customers resident overseas. This is based on current information as customers still have until 5 April 2010 to decide whether to pay such voluntary contributions for these years. An annual breakdown of arrears attributable to voluntary contributions made in each of the tax years is not available.
The Department has received a number of representations on the uprating of additional pension.
Increasing the basic state pension along with pension credit is the most effective way of getting help to over 11 million pensioners in Great Britain.
In the absence of RPI inflation there is no legal requirement to uprate additional pension. We have therefore decided to adopt a more equitable approach to helping pensioners by increasing the basic state pension which goes to virtually all pensioners in Great Britain and pension credit which goes to the poorest.