DWP blocks ONS from publishing contracted-in loser stats

The Department for Work and Pensions has stopped the Office for National Statistics from reporting the set of figures that most clearly highlights the contracted-in losers from its state pension reforms.

The figures for mean gross state pensions, which give the clearest official picture of the level of combined basic and secondary pension of contracted in workers, have been omitted from the ONS’s 2013 Pension Trends paper because the DWP chose not to give it the figures upon which to base its statistics. The DWP blamed the omission on an ‘increased workload’.

Pensions experts have expressed concern at a lack of transparency in reporting data on the impact of the introduction of the single tier pension on different sectors of the population.

The 2011 figures give a clear picture of how much combined basic and secondary pension average UK workers retire on by giving both net and gross figures. Net amounts represent only those amounts paid directly by the state, while gross amounts are estimates of total entitlement to additional state pension, including amounts paid by private pension schemes which are contracted out of the additional state pension.

The 2011 ONS figures show a gross figure of £164, which reflects the income the average contracted-in male retired on in that year. That compares to a net figure of £132.

Uprated to 2013 figures the gross figure would have been expected to have increased to £170, £26 a week more than the proposed single tier pension.

But the 2013 Pension Trends paper only shows net figures, meaning contracted-out and contracted-in individuals’ benefits are combined, giving no clear picture of winners and losers. It shows net state pension payments to men of £145.52 per week and to women of £111.95 per week, but these figures do not including payments made to pensioners that were contracted out of the additional state pension, and therefore do not show the actual amounts contracted-in individuals are receiving.

Ros Altmann says: “It is worrying that there is such a lack of transparency around this Bill, including the failure of the impact assessment and subsequent statistical releases to enable people to understand what is going on.”

A DWP spokesperson says: “Data we provided to ONS for this year’s Pension Trends differed in a number of respects to previous years. Because of increased workload with the current Pensions Bill, we reviewed the amount of original analysis required for this document with ONS and agreed only the most relevant information would be provided. We also needed to ensure that any projections in the document published by ONS were already in the public domain.”