§ Mr. Willetts
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for what reason British pensioners living abroad are facing a delay in receiving their state retirement pension. 
§ Mr. McCartney
This is a matter for Alexis Cleveland, Chief Executive of The Pension Service to reply. She will write to the hon. Member.
Letter from Alexis Cleveland to Mr. David Willetts, dated 24 February 2003:The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has asked me to respond to your recent Parliamentary Question asking for what reason British pensioners living abroad are facing a delay in receiving their state retirement pension.The Department for Work and Pensions sent over 115 million items of mail in 2002 to overseas destinations.Whilst every effort is made to ensure items destined for overseas customers arrive at their destination within the designated timescales, (5 calendar days for Europe and 10 calendar days for rest of the world destinations) unfortunately, sometimes delays are experienced.The most common causes of delay to overseas customers'payments are problems within foreign postal authorities. For example strikes and adverse weather conditions, which affect the transportation of mail. Also national holidays in the receiving country can add delay,Delays reported by customers are taken very seriously and every effort is made to ascertain the reason for the delay, although we are reliant on foreign postal authorities communicating delays or problems within their delivery network.Overseas customers now have the option to have their Pension paid directly into their bank account. There are currently 30 overseas destinations which will accept direct payments, with a further 7 countries coming on board over forthcoming months. This method of payment eliminates payment delays caused by postal difficulties.If you require further information about a specific case I will be happy to investigate further if you let me have details of the customer, country and the period of delay in non-receipt.