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Moneybox Tuesday, 18 February, 2003, 17:08 GMT
Computer error halts fuel payments
Pensioner
Pensioners found their normal payment did not arrive
More than 1,000 people over 60 are still waiting for their winter fuel payments, two months after they should have been paid.

The tax-free 200 payment should have arrived before Christmas.

But the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has told the BBC that the computer system which handles payments has 'lost' records of more than 1,000 people.

DWP staff are now attempting to find the original paper records and reload the data.

Wiped from the system

Retired Detective Superintendent Terry Abrahams contacted the DWP after waiting in vain for his 2002 payment.

He rang the winter fuel payments helpline to find out what was going on.

The department would like to apologise

DWP statement to Money Box

"The lady I spoke to told me that my personal details had been wiped from the computer system along with many others" he said.

He was told that the original applications would have to be found, sorted and the information put on to the system once more for the payments to be made.

And he is not alone. Richard Wilson of the charity Help the Aged confirmed there is a problem.

Apology

"Our own helpline has been receiving calls from people who have had problems this winter.

"We were receiving calls about this issue from people who had previously received their money normally before Christmas, but had not had it this time."

The DWP has now apologised for the error. A spokeswoman told the BBC's Money Box programme:

"We have discovered that 92 customers who contacted the department regarding non-payment of a winter fuel payment have been affected by a computer software problem.

"We have identified a small number of cases that may have been affected in the same way. The total number of cases is 1,128.

"We are currently processing these cases and expect to have paid them by the 24 February.

"The department would like to apologise to Mr Abraham. The level of service offered in this instance is not to the high standards that our department strives to achieve."


The winter fuel payments helpline is on 08459 15 15 15. You can also visit the website for information.

BBC Radio 4's Money Box was broadcast at 1204 GMT on Saturday, 15 February, 2003.

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14 Sep 02 | Politics
14 Sep 02 | Moneybox
28 Aug 02 | Working Lunch
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