NAO reports ‘hardship and distress’ in Civil Service pensions administration

A report conducted by the National Audit Office (NAO) has found that many civil servants experience ‘hardship and distress’ when trying to access their pensions, after the MyCSP brought in changes.

MyCSP currently administers pension schemes to 1.5 million public sector employees. However, in September 2014, the body brought pension payroll and other administration services in-house, where it was previously provided by Capita under a Cabinet Office contract.

The NAO’s ‘Investigation into members’ experience of civil service pension administration’ highlighted that following the change, 14,703 pensioners living overseas received their pensions late, with 99 not receiving their pension at all. It also revealed that MyCSP failed to answer 99,400 calls from customers between September 2014 and March 2015, resulting in a backlog of urgent queries which peaked at 22,000 in January 2015.

Amyas Morse, NAO head, said: “Some people were paid late and members struggled to contact MyCSP. Some reported hardship and distress. MyCSP’s performance is now back to a steady state but the underlying data problems have still not been fixed. This should now be a priority for the Cabinet Office, MyCSP and the employers.”

MyCSP has since cleared its backlog, increased its call centre staff from 59 to 100 and has issued a joint improvement plan with the Cabinet Office. However, there are still members who have reported problems in getting accurate and timely information regarding their pension entitlement.

The NAO’s report also made five recommendations to the Cabinet Office and Pensions body, including: working with employers and MyCSP to produce a plan as to how data will be cleansed and properly maintained and who will pay for it; continuing to reform the governance of the Civil Service pension schemes to ensure that employers are properly involved; and considering and disseminating the lessons from the migration and the subsequent problems for the wider programme of shared services across government.

In a statement, MyCSP said: “MyCSP is pleased to confirm that, as detailed by the National Audit Office report, performance is now back to a steady state. Call handling levels have been back to normal for the past six months, with a corresponding reduction in member complaints, significantly down from their peak at the time of the service challenges. Service to members remains our utmost priority and we will continue to work with the Cabinet Office and employers to deliver towards that aim.”