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Politics/Current Affairs

Want to Boost Your Income? Try Dying

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007 at 13:05 by Eliza E. Lanyard

Though of course you have to get your claim in before you shuffle off this mortal coil.

The Work and Pensions Department revealed some startling figures earlier this week, last year £57.7 million (yes million - lots of noughts for those of you who are number illiterate, myself included) was paid to dead people. £34.4 million was pension payments and £13.3 million was in income support payments. Given that income support is comparatively peanuts that’s an awful lot of dead pensioners. Plus an awful lot of tax payments from the living going to support the dead.

It seems most of the overpayments have occurred because the automated payment system isn’t quick enough to register that people have stopped breathing. Something thats under review this year as the payment system currently gets weekly reports of who has died and who hasn’t, one suggestion is to increase this to daily reports.

But it also seems some of the overpayments have occurred due to some pensioners underestimating their assets, or deliberately fiddling the system, a detail which only comes to light once they have died and their estate is then looked over by Probate officials.

But what I found most surprising - though this could just be because my maths isn’t up to much is that the £57.7 million overpaid to dead people is just 0.075 of the annual government expenditure in benefits. Even my maths tells me that the annual benefit bill must be huge.

Other frankly astounding figures released by the government include that £2.6 billion (even more noughts than a million) in benefits was overpaid due to fraud and error.

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