Barnet Council’s contract with Capita has come under renewed fire after thousands of serious errors were found in employees’ pension data.

A report by consultants Hymans Robertson revealed that as of December last year there were more than 6,000 “critical” data errors in the council’s pension scheme – one of several council services now managed by the outsourcing firm.

These errors could affect the amount of pension benefits due to employees of the local authority.

Mistakes include out-of-date salary information and incorrect contribution rates paid by members towards their pensions.

At a meeting of the council’s pension fund committee yesterday (Tuesday, March 26), a Capita spokesman said the company had been working hard to rectify the errors and was aiming to ensure the number fell to below 1,000 by the end of the month.

But Theresa Musgrove – who blogs as Mrs Angry – told the committee she had found “very serious errors” in her annual pension statement.

She said: “It has had a terrible impact on me, trying to organise my finances.

“I found it extremely stressful and upsetting. It has had devastating consequences for my financial planning.”

Ms Musgrove said she had discovered the errors by chance and warned hundreds of people could be affected without knowing it.

It is not the first time that Capita has faced criticism for its handling of the council’s pension scheme.

Barnet Council was fined £1,000 by The Pensions Regulator in 2017 after missing the previous year’s statutory deadline for sending out pension statements.

Capita was also criticised last year for making late payments totalling almost £2.4 million to the council pension fund.

John Dix, who blogs as Mr Reasonable, pointed out that the data problems had been ongoing since 2016 and told the committee the chances of them being sorted out by the end of March were “nil”.

He said: “How many more promises will be broken before you stop pussyfooting around and sack Capita?”

But committee chair Cllr Mark Shooter said progress was being made and pointed out that the number of critical errors was 50 per cent lower than the previous month.

He said pension administration was “part of an overall contract (with Capita) for the whole council”, adding “we can’t pick and choose”.

A Capita spokesman told the committee: “We take this extremely seriously. We are 100 per cent committed to getting the data right.”

The spokesman explained that some of the problems had been caused by employers failing to notify Capita when members of staff had left their organisations.

He said: “We are aiming to get (the error rate) to under 1,000, but the work does not stop there. It is still not good enough.”

Chairman of Barnet’s pension board Professor Geoffrey Alderman said he was “appalled” by the data errors.

He repeated comments made at the last meeting of the pension board that a member of staff had been unable to retire due to problems with the administration of his pension scheme.

Labour committee members Cllr Danny Rich and Cllr Alison Moore questioned how much the council was having to spend on employing a consultant to help resolve the data problems.

Kevin Bartle, the council’s director of finance, said he could not give a precise figure but admitted the council would bear the cost and it would be charged to the pension fund.

Capita will continue to work to address the errors in a bid to ensure the pension scheme can be accurately valued before the annual statements are due on August 31.