- 2003 Retired Members' Conference
- 26 June 2003
In 2003 access to benefits offices by pensioners was replaced with the new Pensions Service, part of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
The Pensions Service will be centralised with most business being conducted by telephone or post, resulting in the following for pensioners:
1)the withdrawal of drop-in facilities for pensioners from local benefit offices;
2)the loss of many experienced and caring staff who have a good local knowledge which helps them deal with claims and queries quickly and efficiently;
3)pensioners will have to deal with faceless call centres to make their claims or raise queries;
4)inevitable delays in dealing with emergencies such as bereavement payments.
This action is part of the trend in government policy towards shutting down local services and replacing them with centralised processing units and call centres.
Conference believes that the new Pensions Service will make life more difficult for pensioners and is unlikely to encourage increased take-up of benefits which is the Government’s stated objective.
Conference is also concerned at the general movement towards replacing local provision of public services with a centralised service which can marginalise and socially exclude the elderly and those on the margins of society.
Conference therefore requests that the National Executive Council, through the Affiliated Political Fund and other appropriate channels, lobby the Government to:
a)revise the Pensions Service as follows:
i)increase resources to double the existing average of five staff per local authority area;
ii)allow pensioners to request home visits to make claims and resolve queries, rather than just for exceptional cases;
iii)maintain processing work at a local level to allow pensioners to speak directly and face to face with the person dealing with their claim;
b)rethink its service delivery and revive its commitment to social inclusion to guarantee public access for all.