Doulton worker to 'pay back' £1,994
A RETIRED Royal Doulton worker is furious after being ordered to repay £1,944 following a pensions blunder.
The Sentinel reported this week how 49 pension holders had been asked to pay back between £90 and £1,000 after being overpaid by the pension trust.
But it has now emerged Linda Whitehurst – who worked at Royal Doulton for 27 years – has been ordered to pay back almost £2,000.
Officials running the Doulton Pension Trust (DPT) – which handles the pensions – have said the affected 49 pensioners must now pay back between £91 and £1,510 following a 'technical error'.
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And a further six more pension holders have been hit by 'one-off' mistakes – with one former employee told to repay £3,230.
Former Royal Doulton selector and auditor Mrs Whitehurst was stunned to receive her letter demanding £1,944.
The 66-year-old, who lives in Meir Heath, said: "The overpayment mistake is disgusting and it should be waived.
"What surprises me is they have said the amounts range between £81 and £1,510.
"Well mine is £1,944 and they said if it isn't paid off it will automatically come off your pension."
Any pension holders affected by the blunders have been written to by the DPT.
They can repay the overpaid amounts in a lump sum or in instalments. It will mean their pensions have now been reduced to the correct levels.
Mrs Whitehurst's partner Alan Steele said: "Linda's pension has now been reduced to the amount they say it should have been, plus a further reduction to pay back the overpayment which I estimate will take more than 15 years, by which time she will be 82.
"No figures have ever been received regarding how her pension was worked out, or how they have come to the new figures. All we have is their word."
A DPT spokesman said the technical error was identified during checks on pensioners' data following Royal Doulton's closure in 2005.
She added: "The Royal Doulton Pension Plan entered the Pension Protection Fund assessment process on January 5, 2009.
"As part of this process the trustee was required to carry out checks on members' data and benefits to ensure that they are correct.
"This process identified a technical error in the early retirement calculation applied between January 2004 and August 2006, which meant that the pensions paid to a small number of people were too high.
"The repayment amounts ranged from £81 to £1,510.
"In addition there were six one-off errors that were dealt with earlier in the year. The maximum repayment from any individual is £3,230.50.
"We will certainly apologise for any distress caused as a result of people receiving these letters."
Royal Doulton was taken over by Waterford Wedgwood in January 2005.
Its Nile Street factory closed four months later.