OAPs battle to save pension books
By Ted JeoryA HARDY group of pensioners wrapped up against the biting wind to protest against Government plans to withdraw their pension books.They demonstrated for an hour yesterday at the George Yard shopping centre in Braintree and collected more than 100 signatures for their petition.
By Ted Jeory
A HARDY group of pensioners wrapped up against the biting wind to protest against Government plans to withdraw their pension books.
They demonstrated for an hour yesterday at the George Yard shopping centre in Braintree and collected more than 100 signatures for their petition.
The protest was one of a number being staged across the country by members of National Pensioners' Convention to demonstrate against Government plans to phase out the pension book over the next two years and to instead pay money directly into bank accounts.
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Pensioners will then be able to withdraw cash from bank machines or over the counter at a post office.
But the National Pensioners' Convention said the scheme was flawed and the five million pensioners who use a pension book had not been consulted on the proposed changes.
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It added pensioners whose carers collected their pension on their behalf would be forced to hand out their bank card and PIN number, often to a different person each week.
Keypad machines, installed at post offices to allow customers to withdraw cash with a bank card at the counter, also cannot currently be used by the visually impaired and would have to be replaced.
Barabara O'Hare, 70, from Braintree, who helped organised yesterday's protest, said: “It's just not fair on a lot of the people. When you reach a certain age, it becomes difficult to change and remember extra PIN numbers and it adds to their worries.
“I understand the Government is worried about fraud and other things, but really we should be allowed to continue withdraw money as we always have.”
A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions said pensioners had already been “voting with their feet” and choosing to have their pensions paid directly into bank accounts.
“It is a dwindling market that wasn't sustainable. It is the way of the world and you can't stick your head in the sand,” he added.