THE C of E Pensions Board has contacted all of the 18,000
pensioners on its books to apologise for bereavement notices sent
out in error by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). The notices were
triggered by Pensions Board software. The number of erroneous
notices sent out in the past month is not known, but could be as
high as 4000.
A typical complaint was that of the Revd John Reader, in
Dorchester, who wrote last week to his Bishop, the Rt Revd Colin
Fletcher, referring to his mother and mother-in-law. "As you know,
both my mother and Christine's are clergy widows. I wanted to
report - and complain - that they both received a letter from the
Tax Office this morning, apparently triggered by some new system at
the Church Commissioners, informing them that, as a result of their
recent bereavements, they would be receiving a grant, and therefore
had to fill in a new tax return.
"In my mother's case, my father died 33 years ago this month;
and in Chris's mum's case, her father died 12 years ago." The
Bishop replied that he had been appalled by the mistake.
In a note issued on Wednesday, the Pensions Board explained that
the notices from HMRC had been sent on the basis of incorrect
information. "This appears to have been the result of a systems
error, which the Pensions Board is working closely with its
software suppliers to fix." The board assured its pensioners that
no changes would be made to their tax codes, and pensions would
continue to be paid as normal.
The board's chief executive, Bernadette Kenny, has apologised.
"It is not how I want you to be served by the Pensions Board, and I
can assure you that we are taking immediate and urgent steps to
sort this out, and to make sure it - or anything like it - does not