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Page last updated at 13:23 GMT, Friday, 10 April 2009 14:23 UK

Millions 'face benefit hardship'

Men standing outside a job centre in Chatham, Kent
BBC Radio 4's Money Box
Saturday, 11 April 2009 at 1204 BST On Radio 4 and Online

More than two million people who get social security benefits could be left without money for a week when the payment system is changed.

Lone parents, widows, disabled and unemployed people are among those affected by the change in the way that benefits are paid.

The government is switching most people from weekly to fortnightly payments and all money will eventually be paid in arrears.

The process of converting people began on 6 April 2009 and will continue over two years up to 31 March 2011.

We ask Government Minister Rosie Winterton why the change is being made and discuss the implications with Eddie Graham of Child Poverty Action Group and Liberal Democrat MP Steve Webb.

Further information:

In depth: Benefits and tax credits

XL compensation

XL plane
The leisure group collapsed leaving customers out-of-pocket

It is more than six months since the collapse of holiday firm XL and some customers who paid on a credit card are particularly frustrated that they have still not got their money back.

If they paid for their holiday through an Atol-bonded travel agent they should have had dual protection - from the Atol compensation scheme and their credit card company.

But in some cases neither is accepting responsibility, leaving some worried they will never get their cash back.

Bob Howard reports.

Further information:

The future of pensions

Money Box asks the experts what lies ahead for your pension savings

It is not a good year for pensions. The plunging stock market has wiped more than £161 bn off the pension pots of millions of people who followed government advice to save for retirement.

And many companies are closing down or restricting their own schemes which used to offer the best guarantees for a decent pension in retirement.

Over the next two weeks, Money Box will debate the future of pensions with four experts in the field.

We start with a look at company schemes and speak to:

  • Joanne Segars of the National Association of Pension Funds
  • Tom McPhail of independent financial advisers Hargreaves Lansdowne
  • Glynn Jenkins of Unison
  • John Ralfe, independent pensions consultant

Further information:

Benevolent funds

A man and a woman walking with a child
Benevolent funds help people with their costs in times of hardship

With more than 4,000 people losing their jobs every working day it is hardly surprising that charities that give money to those in hardship have seen an increase in the number of people needing help.

Many are people who never thought they would need to go to charity for help.

If you have worked in specific industries, there may be benevolent funds available to help you with mounting costs, even if you are in work.

We hear from Mike Carter, chair of the Association of Charity Officers.

Further information:

BBC Radio 4's Money Box was broadcast on Saturday 11 April 2009 at 1204 BST.

The programme was repeated on Sunday, 12 April at 2102 BST.

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09 Apr 09 |  Moneybox

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