HC Deb 04 December 1973 vol 865 cc1075-6
15. Mrs. Sally Oppenheim

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will consider issuing temporary pension and family allowance books to cover the period of administrative changes.

Mr. Dean

Temporary order books are in fact used where final entitlement cannot be decided without delay but some payment can properly be made. Pensions are, however, usually paid in these circumstances by the issue of Giro cheques or by down-rating existing order books. Where a change of circumstances results in an increase in the rate of pension or allowance, the old order book is normally left in payment until a new book can be issued.

Mrs. Oppenheim

Is my hon. Friend aware that when a married pensioner dies his surviving spouse, also a pensioner, has to return the pension book for adjustment and is sometimes left without it for as long as six weeks, without any money during that period? Will he accept that, whereas in all the cases that have been brought to my attention there has been a relative or a friend to help out, it is deeply disturbing to consider that there may be pensioners living alone who are too old and too infirm to make representations?

Mr. Dean

I apologise to my hon. Friend for the case which she has brought to my attention, where there had been a delay which I regret. In most cases, however, when a woman becomes a widow she retains her pension book and any increase in pension to which she is eligible as a single person is paid later by Giro cheque. But if my hon. Friend has another case in mind where the system has broken down, I will gladly investigate it.

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