Don Foster MP*

People Must Know the Truth about Direct Payments of Benefits

Don has added his support to a Liberal Democrat parliamentary motion calling on the Government to clarify how those who can’t cope with the Direct Payment options will be able to claim their pensions and benefits. New proposals will see all pensions and benefits paid directly into an account by 2005.

Main ImageDon commented:

“Many housebound, disabled and older people may have difficulty in opening an account, remembering a PIN or using a pinpad. The Government’s Direct Payment options have led to widespread distress and anxiety among this very vulnerable group of people.

“However, later this year the Government will reveal a fourth option which will very probably not involve any sort of account, and it appears that the Government is withholding this information to make sure people choose the Direct Payment, which is the cheapest option – even if it is a wrong one for them.

“This represents another example of this Government’s over-zealous cost-cutting at the expense of the most vulnerable members of society – as well as being another blow for local post offices.

“My Liberal Democrat colleagues and I believe people are entitled to know the full facts about this new system of pension and benefit payments. If the Government aren’t prepared to do this, we will.”


Notes to Editors:

Direct Payment was introduced in April 2003 but the DWP has admitted it will only have an Exceptions Service established in October 2004. The Government’s target is for at least 85% of benefit recipients to have moved to Direct Payment by 2005.

According to figures released by the Department of Work and Pensions 34% of people invited to convert to Direct Payment have failed to respond at all.

Text of Early Day Motion 375, which was tabled by Lib Dem Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Malcolm Bruce MP and has gathered cross party support, reads:

That this House calls on the Government to clarify as a matter of urgency how elderly, housebound and disabled people who are not able to cope with the Government’s three Direct Payment options will be able to claim their pensions and benefits after 2005; notes that the Government has consistently acknowledged the need for an ‘Exceptions Service’ yet has failed to give any firm indication of how this system will operate; notes that the Exceptions Service will only be in place 18 months after the move to Direct Payments began and that letters to claimants and the Government’s publicity material largely fails to mention the Exceptions Service or that people can continue to use their order books and girocheques until 2005; notes that uncertainty about how they will be able to collect their pension or benefits has led to anxiety and distress among the most vulnerable members of our society and that many of these people have either not responded at all or have chosen an unsuitable method of receiving essential income due to ignorance of the Exceptions Service; and calls on the Government to guarantee that the Exceptions Service allows for multiple third party collectors, does not require a pinpad and PIN, is fully accessible at post offices and reinforces the viability of the Post Office Network.

This article published: 08/01/2024

Published by Bath Liberal Democrats, 31 James St West, Bath, BA1 2BT. Printed and hosted by JPC Infonet, 2 St Georges Works, Trowbridge, Wiltshire, BA14 8AA. Your Privacy._blank


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