Friday, 17 December 2010


Several years ago, this organisation voiced its concern over the Government's plans to dispense with the Pension Book and replace it with cards.

Now the consequences of this inconsiderate move which we feared would follow, have transpired.

Havering Forum for the Over 50's listened to our local representative of the Advocacy Service provided by Age UK (formerly Age Concern), tell us how difficult this move by the Government has made life for many of the elderly living alone and unable to get out. These folk depend on helpers and carers for errands and contact with the outside world and more importantly for someone to collect their pension for them.

The replacement of pension books by cards is totally unfair and distressing to many.

Old Age Pensioners, because of their age, find it difficult and in many cases impossible, to remember Pin Numbers and yet the finance companies vehemently advise against those numbers being passed on to other persons.

Once upon a time a Pensioner could sign a pension book and a relative or carer would visit the Post Office and collect the Pension. Admittedly this method is open to theft or fraud but most people over sixty would be happy to take the risk and be assured that they could receive their weekly or monthly payment.

At present there are no agencies who will co-operate and accept Agents with cards collecting money for pensioners.

So an elderly person, is stuck at home, needing money but with no means of collecting what is rightfully theirs.

We were told that a helper found the only way round this problem was for the Pensioner to make out a cheque for the required amount in favour of the helper who would present this to a Bank, pick up the money and take it back to the Pensioner.

Now this is just as risky but is the only way an old person can be helped out of their predicament.

Now it transpires that there is a move by the Banks to do away with cheques.

This move would not only be difficult for pensioners but for the general public. The alternative would be for items to be purchased on line with the use of credit cards.

How many pensioners are able to use computers? How many own one? How many use credit cards? The danger with credit cards is that one can lose one's identity. That is, a crook can access your banking details via a computer and empty your bank account by typing in your bank account numbers, etc. Placing your details on a computer leaves you open to theft.

So it is most unfair and dangerous to expect pensioners to trust helpers with cheques or to use on-line banking.

The weak, elderly and disabled are experiencing deep anxiety and frustration just in order to obtain what is rightfully theirs. It is the Government's responsibility to ensure a pensioner can access their pensions and benefits without fear or obstruction and doing away with Pension Books and forcing the elderly to resort to remembering pin Numbers, the use of cards and on-line banking is creating fear and obstruction in a most unprincipled way.