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Widow's pension payments stopped

PUBLISHED: 16:15 17 January 2008 | UPDATED: 10:18 03 July 2010

Laura Devlin

A WIDOW has told of her despair after she was left without her full pension for almost three months after her husband's death.

Lily Barnes, 88, had to cope with money worries as well as her bereavement through Christmas - an already difficult time for the family after her payments were stopped by the Pension Service without explanation.

A WIDOW has told of her despair after she was left without her full pension for almost three months after her husband's death.

Lily Barnes, 88, had to cope with money worries as well as her bereavement through Christmas - an already difficult time for the family after her payments were stopped by the Pension Service without explanation.

Her children this week accused the department of stopping payments to vulnerable people “at a whim” and said the government should “hold its head in shame”.

The former auxiliary nurse cared for her husband, William, through years of ill health and during his final days at their home in Blofield, where he passed away in October. They had been married for 72 years.

Her family immediately contacted the Pensions Service, which inexplicably stopped Mrs Barnes' pension credit and then her £53-a-week state pension.

A lump sum has now been paid in to her bank account, without any notification or apology, and no guarantee that future payments will reach her on time.

“I can't get my head round it all, this should have been sorted out a long time ago,” said Mrs Barnes.

“I wouldn't like to say how I feel - I think if I had been on my own without a family to help, I know what I would have done.

“All I can think about is all the money I have saved the government.

“I worked all my life and I couldn't get any help from social workers to care for my husband, and it was a 24-hour job. But they just don't care.”

Christmas is particularly difficult for Mrs Barnes as two of her sons passed away at that time of year, one in a car accident and another to leukaemia.

Her son, Everitt Barnes, said “My mother is very bright but these last 10 weeks have taken a heavy toll on her.

“She would often turn the heating off because the oil was running low, and she was using powdered milk at Christmas; she won't accept any charity from any of us so we have to help where we can.

“Nobody could explain what was happening, even though they must realise they are already dealing with someone who is vulnerable and emotional and has a lot going on.

“God help anybody without a family to support you when you get old, you can't rely on the government for even your entitlement.”

He said that he has asked the Pensions Service how to make an official complaint and has heard nothing more from them.

A spokesman for the department for work and pensions said: “I cannot comment on individual cases but in the circumstance where a pensioner dies and a surviving partner becomes entitled to receive their pension this can take up to five weeks to transfer.

“In any situation that the Pension Service may have contributed to unnecessary delay we will apologise to the customer and consider whether a special payment by way of compensation is appropriate.”

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