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C of E Pensions Board apologises

11 October 2013

By a staff reporter


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 happen again."

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