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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 August, 2003, 12:52 GMT 13:52 UK
Pensioners stumped by savings rule
Terry Lynch
Terry: Scheme strikes wrong chord
The new Pension Credit, which comes into effect in October, is supposed to reward people who have saved for their retirement.

But it's putting many people in a Catch-22 situation.

That's because it makes an assumption that savings are earning 10% interest.

And that has left some with even modest savings failing the means test.

Terry Lynch is one of those falling foul of the rules.

He and his wife get about 35 a week from their savings.

This leaves them well below the threshold so they should qualify for the reward element of the credit.

But the government has a different way of calculating interest.

It says: "We look at the amount of savings you have and count 1 a week as income for every 500 or part of 500 over 6,000."

Where can you invest money at 10.4%?
Terry Lynch
So under those rules, the Lynches finds themselves getting a notional 88 a week from their savings.

That puts them above the threshold and means they get nothing.

"A little bit of mathematics works out that 1 a week for every 500 works out at something like 10.4%," says Terry, a former cabaret artist.

"Where can you invest money at 10.4%?

"They're cutting out hundreds of thousands of people who have got a certain amount of savings and now become, according to their calculation, well above the threeshold.

"It's more spin than help really."

The Department for Work and Pensions says it's important to check if you will qualify for the credit.

Some people will be in Terry's position, but many more could benefit from the new system.

The guarantee element - which replaces the old minimum income guarantee - will give 102 for single people and 155 for couples over 60.

But if you are over 65 and have money saved, the reward element could take your pension up to 139 for single people and 203 for couples.

It's this element which Terry says he won't qualify for.

For more information, check out the government's Pension Service website.

There's a number to call for an application - 0800 99 1234.

The BBC's Simon Gompertz
"The government assume they make a lot more from their savings than they actually do"

More credit misery looming?
15 Jul 03  |  Working Lunch
Countdown to Pension Credit
07 May 03  |  Working Lunch

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