Lynne Featherstone

MP for Hornsey and Wood Green

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LIB DEMS URGE COUNCIL TO HELP PENSIONERS FIGHT TO KEEP THEIR PENSION BOOKS

At Haringey’s Full Council meeting tonight, Liberal Democrat councillors will propose a motion that the Council should oppose plans by the Government to phase out the pension book as a method of pension collection. Pension books, which are used by over 8,600 older people in Haringey, are to be ended by 2005 as the Government-imposed timetable of change takes affect. The Lib Dems are concerned that people who are happy with the books are being forced to change to alternatives that are complicated and confusing.

The plan by the Government is to replace the pension book with three alternative ways by whichthe elderly can receive their pension:

·Into a normal bank or building society account
·Into a new basic bank account
·Through a new Post Office Card Account

The Lib Dems are unhappy that the pension book has not been allowed to remain alongside the new systems. They are also concerned about aspects of the alternative means of payment and will ask the Council to raise the matter with the Government.

The main concern that will be raised by Highgate councillor Neil Williams when he proposes this motion, is the complexity of the application process for the Card Account. The applicant will have to make at least one phone call, fill out two forms and visit the post office before their application is complete. Cllr Williams is also concerned about pensioners who forget their new card PIN numbers. There is currently no way that a pensioner can access their money without a PIN.

Cllr Williams hopes to have the full support from both sides of the chamber. He says that this motion’s aim is to ensure that the elderly in Haringey do not have to worry about how to claim their pension.

Cllr Neil Williams (Highgate) comments:

“The Government has made a decision without assessing the worry and stress that these changes will have on much of our elderly population. Over 40% of pensioners in Haringey use the pension book. These are not changes that will effect a small minority, but a huge section of our elderly population, especially in the east of the borough.”

Cllr Peter Floyd, of Crouch End, who will second the motion, adds:

“I am also concerned that pensioners face further problems with the closure of post office branches in the borough. Two within Haringey have already gone, and others near the borough have also closed, with further major closures in the pipeline. This is a further attack on pensioners’ ability to receive payments in ways which are familiar to them.”

Mon 17 November 2003
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