OAPs won't rule out pension book protest

SUFFOLK pensioners have not ruled out a street protest campaigning against Government plans to withdraw their pension books.Around five million retired people receive their pensions at post offices using a pension book that, under Government plans, will be replaced by a credit card and a PIN number.

SUFFOLK pensioners have not ruled out a street protest campaigning against Government plans to withdraw their pension books.

Around five million retired people receive their pensions at post offices using a pension book that, under Government plans, will be replaced by a credit card and a PIN number.

The proposal led to numerous protests across the country last week and something similar is possible in this area.

Jack Thain, 81, is the chairman of the Suffolk region of the National Pensioners Convention (NPC). He said: "I would say about 25 per cent of pensioners still want to use their pension books.


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"We have got an executive meeting on February 4 and if the delegates of all eight branches want to demonstrate then we would have to organise a protest.

"The way to do that in Suffolk is to demonstrate at the main post offices, there is not one main building.

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"But I do not think there is a great chance of it happening as, at the moment, we are campaigning about council tax. If we get that sorted out we will pick up another campaign and go to town on that.

"There has been no call to come out on a march but if they feel strong enough about it then it will get to a major protest."

Concerns were raised over the long-term arrangements for senior citizens whose pension book is collected by a different person each week, or in emergencies.

Anyone who forgets the four-digit PIN number would not be able to collect their pension and would have to travel to the nearest Benefits Office to apply for a crisis loan.

Rodney Bickerstaffe, NPC president, said: "This plan to pay pensioners' money directly into bank and building society accounts is unpopular, unfair and unsuitable for many older people.

"We already know of one 83-year-old woman who, just before Christmas, forgot her PIN number and had to travel four miles to queue up and apply for a crisis loan.

"This is unacceptable and no way to treat someone who has worked all their life."

A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions said "a paper based method of payment" would be provided for elderly people who could not use one of the direct methods of payment.

The spokesman added: "Our aim is to ensure people can get their pension and their benefits. We are not going to make it difficult to do that, we are just introducing more choice and flexibility for them."

N IT COULD have been a very frugal Christmas and New Year for one pensioner after a new system left her without cash.

Elderly people have now been given the choice to get their pensions from a machine at the post office where they just put their pin number in to receive their money.

But when Edna Prior tried the new system, it refused to accept her pin number and would not dispense any money.

Her husband Edward from Kemball Street, Ipswich said they were counting themselves lucky that they had savings and his pension that could keep them going over Christmas – but some people might not have that back up.

He said: "We went to the Post Office on the Tuesday before Christmas but the pin number she put in was not recognised.

"She tried twice but there was no joy.

"We phoned the helpline number on the card that we had but they could not give her a new pin number over the phone and she had to wait four working days for another one.

"She rang the post office but there was no other way she could get any money."

n What do you think of the pension change? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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