A spending cut for the Treasury – stop sending money to the dead

Every day government sends out pension money and benefits to people who have died.  It then employs other staff to work out where there has happened, and to seek to reclaim it from relatives of the deceased. This process takes time and effort, and is not always successful. It is also upsetting to family members to receive communications about overpayments to their dead loved ones. There is a double cost in the money they do not get back and in the costs of the recovery, and a cashflow cost from all the erroneous payments made. I ask the Treasury to look at how to improve and save money.

More to the point this waste and cost could be easily saved. Most people who die in the UK are elderly UK citizens. They must be well known to the UK state, as they die under the supervision of an NHS hospital doctor in an NHS hospital, or under the eye of an NHS GP. In order to get the free NHS care the elderly person has to be well known to the UK authorities, with medical card, National Insurance number, and registered with a local surgery with name , address and these identifier details.  More importantly, the supervising doctor has to make out a medical certificate identifying the person and establishing date, time, place and cause of death.  This document could be used to inform the rest of government of the death and cease all payments from close to the time of death.

It is true that NHS hospitals often delay producing the Death Certificate for a few days for no good reason. Why not ask the senior medical person on duty when the person dies to produce the certificate before going off shift, as surely it is easiest to write out an accurate certificate whilst the memory on the ward is still fresh as to the time and circumstance of death. This can be promptly checked and reviewed by another unrelated doctor at the hospital.

The state, however, delays matters further by requiring a relative of the deceased to pick up the medical certificate and to take it to a Registrar of Deaths to create a second death certificate. This can delay matters longer, as Registrars are not available at week-ends or in the evenings. The relative has to go in person to  meet the registrar, and often there is a week’s delay or more before the first available  appointment can be secured. The relative is requested to take the birth certificate, marriage certificate, NHS card, NI number, tax reference, full name and address of the person as if the state does not know any of this from the medical death certificate and its own records. Still, however, when the formal Death Certificate is issued, the government may  go on paying the deceased.

Individuals are further encouraged to register with Tell Us Once. The irony of this is  not lost, when it is clearly tell us at least twice and turns out to be an invitation to tell them many more times. This entails putting onto another computer many of the details given to the Registrar, and saying what the relative knows about the deceased’s relations with the state. After doing this, payments are still often made to the deceased!

This is a bad system that imposes plenty of stress and hassle on the grieving relative, and fails to use the amply supplied information to  stop the flow of money promptly and cleanly. Surely in an age of computers which can talk to each other the state could stop paying pensions and benefits to the dead?

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56 Comments

  1. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted August 6, 2018 at 5:29 am | Permalink

    HMRC continued to pay me tax credits for a year despite me telling them multiple times that I had found a better paying job and was no longer eligible.
    After being informed the second time they stopped paying me only to start again two weeks later.
    Following me finally getting them to acknowledge my letters after one year and two months, they continued to pay me for a further ten weeks. HMRC then demanded I repaid all the money which according to its own rules I was not obliged to do but it still pursued me for five years.
    In the end it backed down, but only because it breached data protection rules, not because it accepted it was wrong.

    Address this cavalier attitude to handing out taxpayers funds, there is plenty of scope to save money.

    • Helen Smith
      Posted August 6, 2018 at 8:30 am | Permalink

      Dont’t get me started on Tax Credits. I was overpaid so stupidly I sent the money back.

      They banked the money then chased me for it for nearly two years. I wrote time and again with photocopied proofs that I had already repaid the money which they ignored, choosing instead to send me threatening letters saying I knew I had been overpaid and demanding the money back.

      When I finally got them to acknowledge I had already repaid the money there was no apology or acceptance that they had ever been in the wrong.

      Mr Redwood is quite correct that the system of payments to deceased citizens can easily be improved and would be of great benefit to both the relatives and tax payers. Such improvements would be welcomed in private industry where cost savings and keeping people happy mean more profit but in the public sector saving money and customer satisfaction is neither here nor there as they are a monopoly and they can just bill the tax payer for the extra funds.

  2. Nig l
    Posted August 6, 2018 at 5:31 am | Permalink

    There is a wider problem, the nonsense of one part of the State fining another, health and safety, data breaches etc. All it means is that the particular NH trust for instance, or say Railtrack, has even less money to do the job that it struggled to do in the first place resulting in a double whammy for the general public. First the breach and then poorer service.

    We need personal sanctions, both financial and job threatening

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted August 6, 2018 at 6:17 am | Permalink

      We need personal sanctions, both financial and job threatening

      Such a simple but effective solution

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 6, 2018 at 6:28 am | Permalink

      Indeed one government agency fining another or indeed several agencies arguing, often through the courts, over which one should pay for something or someone’s treatment – pushing them form pillar to post. Surely in a sensibly run state sector decisions should be made by government as to who pays for what. Not left to different parts of the state to waste money arguing over it.

      Yes the government is hugely inefficient over pension payments and indeed almost everything else they do. My parents chose to defer taking the state pension in return for higher payments but they mucked the calculation up there too. It took years to resolve.

    • Iain Gill
      Posted August 6, 2018 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      Network rail is not short of money, it is short of competence. You could sack the thousands in head office and improve it significantly.

      • Turboterrier.
        Posted August 6, 2018 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

        @ Iain Gill

        You could sack the thousands in head office and improve it significantly.

        Totally agree but at what cost to the taxpayers?

        When is parliament going to knock on the head the golden goodbye to the civil service and local authorities?

        In the real world incompetence is paid out with three fifths of naff all

  3. cryingoutloud
    Posted August 6, 2018 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    There are many more agencies, govt depts etc that should be notified promptly on a persons death, apart from pensions, the housing dept in the various councils also utilities and banks to stop standing orders being paid out if appropiate. If any court actions are pending then the police and courts should be informed..it can all be done by computers, it’s only a question of joining up the dots

    • Turboterrier.
      Posted August 6, 2018 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

      @ cryingoutload

      it’s only a question of joining up the dots

      Steady on there that is much too basic and technical!

  4. Iain Gill
    Posted August 6, 2018 at 5:36 am | Permalink

    Tax man is worse.

    They sent out demands for supposedly underpaid income tax a few days after my dad’s death. They were almost certainly wrong but we were so upset we just paid up.

    Their whole approach was outrageous.

    Registrar of births and deaths are wildly different quality in different parts of the country. Some are good and sympathetic, others are uncaring and very bad.

    Lots about the system does not work. And having more joined up big brother overseeing us is not the answer. Rather we need wholesale handing of buying power, decision making, and control over to the individual citizenry and away from the overpowered arms of the state.

    • eeyore
      Posted August 6, 2018 at 7:54 am | Permalink

      Many of the citizen’s dealings with the state are already so complex that he or she must employ professionals to handle them. Perhaps there’s an opening here for private death agents who for a modest fee will process the bureaucratic aspects of bereavement.

      • Iain Gill
        Posted August 6, 2018 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

        better a private agent chosen by the citizen than a state allocated service which will inevitably be substandard

      • alan jutson
        Posted August 6, 2018 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

        eyesore

        “Private Death Agents”

        They already exist and are called Solicitors or Banks, they will do the work of the executor, and they charge a small fortune for it.

  5. sm
    Posted August 6, 2018 at 5:38 am | Permalink

    I have dealt with 3 deaths in the past few years, so may I make a few comments?

    In 2 cases, death certificates could not be issued immediately as there were discussions with me about the possible necessity of post-mortems to define the exact cause of death.

    In all 3 cases, the hospital officials, the Local Authority Registrars and indeed the DWP were patient, helpful and kind – unlike many of the banks, investment companies etc, most of whom behaved as though the possibility of their customers dying was unheard of, and definitely rather bothersome.

    Possibly the most obnoxiously difficult outfit was the TV Licensing Authority; it took four telephone calls (the last consisting of utter outrage on my part) to cancel the threatening letters that arrived for about 3 months, despite the fact that I had notified the Authority of the death within a week of the event.

    • Spratt
      Posted August 6, 2018 at 6:40 am | Permalink

      when my Father in law died, registering his death clearly did notify all relevant state agencies. Like you though we had obnoxious threatening communications from the TV licensing authority whose default assumption was that a family of young people were now enjoying the BBC free of charge in his empty home. The other difficult lot were his cable TV provider because the option ‘the contract holder has died’ was not on their menu of choices. It took much persistence to get to speak to a real human being and cancel the service.
      When my mother died there was no threat from the TV licensing authority but registering the death took 3 weeks. She died on the eve of a long bank holiday weekend and it took a week to get the death certificate signed (something I would have done on the same day when I was a junior doctor) . Then it turned out that the local registrar was part time and had no appointments for a fortnight! Her funeral was nearly 4 weeks after she died even though the death was uncontentious with no PM held. What would have happened if we had required burial within 72 hours I wonder…

      • Turboterrier.
        Posted August 6, 2018 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

        @ Spratt

        What would have happened if we had required burial within 72 hours I wonder…

        They would have made it happen come hell or high water

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 6, 2018 at 6:52 am | Permalink

      TV licencing are incredibly offensive with their endless letters, and when you ring them to tell them there is no TV at a property they start asking you impertinent questions about things that have nothing whatever to do with them. The offensive letters often keep coming anyway. I must have had hundred over the years at various properties.

      • alan jutson
        Posted August 6, 2018 at 8:42 am | Permalink

        Lifelogic

        Agreed, TV licensing organisation refused to believe my dead mother was not viewing TV programmes, after sending them a copy of her Death Certificate they continued to send letters to the empty house (whilst probate was being processed) threatening the home owner.

        • Catherine
          Posted August 6, 2018 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

          They also refused to believe we did not have a tv (we did not), nor did we watch on computer. Hundreds of letters.

      • Bob
        Posted August 6, 2018 at 10:36 am | Permalink

        @lifelogic
        I ignore TLVA completely. I refuse to even talk to them.
        I had one visit from a Licence Inspector (aka sales rep) and as soon as he identified himself I closed the door in his face.

        Since then I have received all kinds of veiled threats about inspection visits, investigations and potential prosecutions. Fortunately, my business uses lots of packing materials including shredded paper, so thank you TVLA.

        You don’t need to prove you’re not breaking the law, the onus is on them to prove the contrary.

  6. Cheshire Girl
    Posted August 6, 2018 at 5:40 am | Permalink

    I have had recent experience of this subject as my Husband passed away a month ago. We did .Tell us once’. So far we havent received any money in my Husbands name. We did find it quite useful that this system saved us from notifying the local council, the DVLA etc. separately.

    My Husband died in Hospital near midnight on a Friday night, and this may not be relevant, but all I can say is the the Staff at the Hospital went above and beyond, what I expected to care for my Husband, and my Son and myself, with efficiency and compassion. The NHS at its very best. !

    • Iain Gill
      Posted August 6, 2018 at 7:23 am | Permalink

      The NHS was shockingly bad in all recent cases of death I have been closely involved with, indeed the deceased would almost certainly still be alive in any other developed country. It staggers me the persistent NHS is wonderful crap when the evidence to the contrary is staring us all in the face.

      • Cheshire Girl
        Posted August 6, 2018 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

        I have to speak as I find. Others may have a different experience.

  7. DUNCAN
    Posted August 6, 2018 at 5:54 am | Permalink

    Duplication and triplication is one of the common tools of public sector budget expansion. It’s a deliberate abuse and one that’s been an effective strategy in retaining inefficiencies that encourage spending rather than saving.

    The raison d’etre of the unproductive sector is budget expansion year on year. These organisations are not self-financing so there’s no pressure to generate their own income through production and sales. They simply issue a strike threat to government and bingo, more money next year

    And politicians in government love spending money. It makes them feel important and allows them a grandstanding opportunity to show how concerned and generous they are

    Of course spending other peoples money IS NOT a political achievement

    The byzantine nature of government departments is absolutely deliberate. Complexity of process is another deliberate strategy to protect them from reform

    The state can perform its duties on limited budgets but it chooses not too.

  8. Prigger
    Posted August 6, 2018 at 5:55 am | Permalink

    Before anyone else says it. Yes, it was a dead loss.
    I have a similar tale to tell but it would take too long to detail.
    It seems the potential of computers is not quite understood even by the people who use them and by their IT Sections, in my own experience. ( Numerous examples I and others could give ) .
    I hear too today that Richard Dawkins is mounting a campaign against Brexit.
    Hmm. I was an agnostic until I heard his detailed arguments on evolution. Illogical reasoning, unscientific, even if his conclusion proves to be true, someday. Certainly not yet.
    So we have nothing to fear from remoaners. In fact, if they would just cool it, I could present a better case than they do for Remain. Gaping black holes in their argument sequencing.

  9. Yossarion
    Posted August 6, 2018 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    John, In the last few weeks I have registered My Mothers death, at the registrar they had a one time only on the day where they would cancel state pensions bus passes etc, just make it compulsory and then this should not re occur.

  10. eeyore
    Posted August 6, 2018 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    I suspect that dealing with this sort of candle-end saving costs more it saves. Certainly that’s what Sir Humphrey would tell the Minister.

    JR carefully puts no figure on the loss. All over government similar small losses must occur. They are inevitable in vast and complex organisations, as is inefficiency, dishonesty and incompetence. What do they add up to – 5% of spending? 10%? Does anyone actually know?

    In a computer age when vast amounts of personal data are efficiently handled by social media sites, banks etc, perhaps we should all run an online account with government. Auto fill the form and you’re alive, one click and you’re dead!

  11. Mark B
    Posted August 6, 2018 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    A very interesting topic.

    I do not think it is the Treasury’s fault if monies are paid as a result of this. I think this is a something that Ministers need to sort out as it clearly is a inter departmental issue.

    Having someone responsible in the hospital 24/7 for such matters and allowing all the necessary paperwork to go to the relevant departments is an aspect of administration.

  12. Richard1
    Posted August 6, 2018 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    A good detailed example of the frequent uselessness of our unionised public services, which are so grossly over-represented in political discourse and on the airwaves. As we can see above, all of this should be capable of automation with significant savings, releasing civil servants to do productive private sector jobs providing goods and services to people who choose to buy them rather than being forced to do so.

    Meanwhile our supposedly Rolls Royce civil service is making a pig’s ear of Brexit – the main fault being with Mrs May and the Govt of course – and has embarrassed us all reportedly by coming up with comically bad translations of Mrs May’s Chequers white paper.

    Good to know our EU partners are provided with some mirth as British ministers go round abasing themselves and us by warning the EU that it will be worse for them than us if they don’t accept Mrs Mays convoluted vassal state proposal to ‘leave’. A threat which plainly carries no credibility having had no proper preparations made for it.

    Perhaps Lord Owen is right. We are now in such a pickle we better go for EEA membership as a temporary measure and seek a Canada type deal ove the longer term, under a new and more inspiring PM.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted August 6, 2018 at 8:54 am | Permalink

      It seems to me that if it is too difficult to move beyond the EEA now then in all likelihood it will still be too difficult to move beyond the EEA at any point in the future. And although we are in the EEA now as a member state of the EU that does not necessarily mean it would be easier in practice for us to stay in the EEA than come to some new arrangement; if the EU chooses to be obstructive about a new treaty for a bespoke deal then it can equally well choose to be obstructive about the treaty changes which would be needed for the UK to stay in the EEA. Some people are dishonestly spreading the delusion that the UK could unilaterally opt to stay in the EEA as an existing readily available solution which we could just take down off the peg and put on, as it were, but that is not the case.

    • Andy
      Posted August 6, 2018 at 11:07 am | Permalink

      Canada = hard border. Just sayin’.

      • Richard1
        Posted August 6, 2018 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

        No reason for that at all

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 6, 2018 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      Not hard to be more inspiring the May she gets almost everything wrong. But she is at least doing one sensible thing amazingly. We are it seems getting an organ donor “opt out” system. I decided this was an obvious thing to do when I was about eleven, some forty odd years back. Well before the new “nudge” trend.

      Why on earth was it not done back then? Religious people in the main delayed it I imagine. How many thousands of people have died just because politicians did not do this simple and free (indeed net positive financially) thing back then? Perhaps a hundred thousand or so? Plus of course it would have made the UK more of a centre of excellence for transplants too. I hope these religious people and politicians who obstructed it are proud of all these premature deaths.

  13. alan jutson
    Posted August 6, 2018 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    I guess you are raising this issue John because of perhaps your recent experience in the aftermath of the loss of a family member.

    You are correct in so much as a significant time and effort has to be made by the surviving family members, especially at a time of grief, to inform many people and departments of any death.

    Certainly in the case of death at home, a certificate is often delayed due to the need for a post mortem examination, to confirm cause of death.

    Certainly you would think that all Government Departments at least would be able to link up the reporting of a death, if they were sent a copy of the Doctors Death Certificate automatically by the Doctor themselves, thus saving the time of everyone involved.

    Given most people who are in receipt of a State pension or Benefits, do not pass away on the last minute of the last day of the payment week, why not allow a short period of grace until at least the end of that payment week before stopping any further payments, and thus saving the need, the expense, and the upset of chasing up people for the repayment of just a few pounds, which always seems a rather callous action.

    • Andy
      Posted August 6, 2018 at 11:08 am | Permalink

      Now you want to spend my taxes finding dead people? What happened to austerity?

      • alan jutson
        Posted August 6, 2018 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

        Andy

        Please explain, I do not understand the point you are trying to make.

    • NickC
      Posted August 6, 2018 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

      Richard 1, Yes, our civil service is making a pig’s ear of Brexit because they are Remain, just as most MPs are. They are incapable of accepting that we can be independent, as Andy and other EU trolls on here demonstrate.

      Being told once is a good idea. We told them we wanted to Leave at once in 2016. But once isn’t good enough for them, they want us to go on voting until we get the “right” answer.

      They may have degrees, but they sure didn’t go to Primary school and learn what the word “Leave” means. Funny that, because they seemed to know what Leave meant prior to 23rd June 2016.

  14. Annette
    Posted August 6, 2018 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    Like sm, I recently had to deal with 3 deaths in 3 years. I had already done the phoning around before I’d got to the Registrar appointment. I have to say that the gentleman at DWP was fantastic. I’d phoned about my mother’s AA but he then sorted pension payments & apparently a death payment to my father to help with funeral etc that I’d been unaware of. He told me at the time that as payments had just been sent that my Mother was overpaid by one week but to await the letter. Unfortunately for them, before repayment could be made, my Father died so everything then was frozen pending Probate so after about 2 years they were refunded the £72.05 overpayment.

    I did find the ‘Tell me once’ thing, a good idea, a waste of time at the Registrars as I’d already done it in two of the three cases (& that one being outside of UK though he died here). What is needed is the form & a contact telephone number available with the Certificate of death, the form acting as an aide-memoire for the relatives for details to be given. If there are no relatives, the hospital/hospice can complete. Similarly, if the death is at home as a doctor must certify the death & if no relatives, the authorities.
    One number to call soon after a death would have been much easier, as long as follow up letters regarding over/under payments are sensitively written.

  15. ChrisK
    Posted August 6, 2018 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    Things like medical cards are easily lost….I haven’t seen mine for decades, I have not a clue where it is in the house. Many years ago I was chastised for not producing my deceased father’s medical card….I wasn’t living at home when he died, he left a muddle of papers anyway and how on earth was I supposed to know where he kept it? And just think how much more aggravation will be caused if/when the government imposes compulsory organ donation…more stuff for the bereaved to cope with…

  16. Andy
    Posted August 6, 2018 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    I’ve got even better ideas. Scrap state pensions altogether. It should not be for the government to support you. Support yourselves. Go out and get a job. If you want to retire then save more. It is not hard. Why are we giving handouts to elderly layabouts?

    We should not pay for your social care either. Save for it. Sell your house. It is not the fault of any young person if you have been too irresponsible to save for your own needs. And we should put an annual limit on health spending too. Most NHS money goes to the elderly. Every person should get an annual NHS limit. When the treatment you have received reaches that limit then you pay the rest yourself.

    Pensions, social care and the NHS for the elderly make up most government spending. Slash them and you can slash taxes. I mean properly cut them. Not just by a penny here or there but half them. You could halve your tax bill.

    You all want less government, less tax, more personal responsibility. These three things achieve more of that than any of your ideas ever can or will. Thank you for your support.

  17. acorn
    Posted August 6, 2018 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    Marie Curie says 44% of deaths occur at home or in a Care Home, not in Hospitals. When, in the near past, I was making frequent trips to Care Homes and a Hospice; I can imagine seeing signs hanging around residents necks saying “DWP informed”.

    A much better cost saving would be; stop issuing Treasury savings certificates to the rest of the world (R0W)! We are currently paying £280 million per week to R0W savers in interest payments. In EU fiscal year 2017, the UK made net payments to the EU of £127 million a week.

  18. Adam
    Posted August 6, 2018 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    It is odd that the state should need guidance on common sense, & how to do something so simple as routine efficiency. How much are we paying ministries for being daft?

  19. Geoff not Hoon
    Posted August 6, 2018 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    An excellent post Mr. Redwood. You mention the duties of the relative and all the documents that have to be presented. Imagine someone with no relatives and a friend (me in this case) trying to register a death when almost none of the documents are to hane despite searches galore. With the threat of criminal proceedings hanging over folk who register a death late it is a stressful time in more ways than one.

  20. Tad Davison
    Posted August 6, 2018 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Crazy and lax though this is, it isn’t the only waste of money. There are loads of other places – too many to go into – where the treasury fritters away our largesse, usually via a poorly-managed government department. It seems there is a general malaise that affects all government departments, and that is a betrayal of all those who have to work hard to fund it via high levels of taxation.

    The question must therefore surely be, why doesn’t each government department get a grip. Is efficient running beyond the capacity of the often handsomely remunerated band of top civil servants whose job it is to ensure that day-to-day operations go smoothly?

    Surely it is not beyond the wit of man to put these inefficient practises right?

    Tad Davison

    Cambridge

  21. Alison
    Posted August 6, 2018 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    My brother and I did the ‘notify once’ and it worked fairly well. However, the bank was dreadful – error after error, very slow. Clearly the staff had not been adequately trained. Gone the days when one knew one’s bank manager and the staff and vice versa. Very sloppy, stressful and distressing for us. One meeting was early on a Friday afternoon, and it was obvious the member of staff was only thinking about getting away for the weekend.

    Segwaying slightly off topic, to caring for old and infirm family members. I put my business effectively on hold – for years – while caring for my parents, and wouldn’t have had it any other way.
    I see Project Fear’s latest offering is a Dept of Health document on the need for women to give up their jobs to look after parents, unless the UK has migrants from the EU to do the work.
    This really is the pits. Of course, the document and argument have multiple purposes – project fear, and also to put pressure on the independent migration committee, to produce a report (due in September) which says the UK needs EU workers.
    Whether or not the UK is in the EU, and without entering a discussion on how best to provide care for the elderly, the government should be planning, at all times, to ensure there are sufficient appropriately trained British people – doctors, nurses, care assistants. Of course, for care assistants in particular, the poor pay is a big disincentive.
    Germany has a similar problem (& has seen a doubling in foreign care workers in the last 3 years). Last month the health minister talked about bringing in Albanians and Kosovans, lowering visa requirements and allowing longer stay before getting a job.
    Bringing in foreign workers, prepared to work for lower wages (but attracted by good welfare and a decent society), is not the solution. We as a country must be able to do our work for ourselves. If we can’t, we might as well give up.
    Those workers who come in will stay, and 20, 30 years later the state will have so many more elderly for whom to provide care. (and in the interim, provide housing, schools, health care etc).
    I am sure there is a orchestrated plan, of which project fear is just a part. I can see similar reports from other government departments coming out in the next weeks, saying that the UK needs EU migrant workers. It will be interesting to see how Mr Gove handles the DEFRA one.

  22. NigelE
    Posted August 6, 2018 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Like many poster here, I have recent experience of registering a death. I believe that strictly speaking, we are required to register the death within 5 working days, which was just managed as the hospital delayed the issue of the death certificate. Despite this negative, the hospital staff were incredible helpful and I learnt about Tell Us Once from a booklet they provided at the time of the death, so knew I could wait until meeting the Registrar to contact DWP etc.; Tell Us Once worked for me.

    However, one bit of the govt not covered is NS&I. Given that many older people save with them, this seems an omission.

  23. Den
    Posted August 6, 2018 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    As I recall, when applying for a Death Certificate, the National Insurance Number of the deceased is required.
    There is the clear basis for the Treasury to stop any further pension payments or due benefits.
    So why is it never acted upon? Perhaps the Treasury are too busy elsewhere plotting to stop Brexit instead.

  24. Christine
    Posted August 6, 2018 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    It’s better than it used to be where the next of kin had to notify every Government department separately by letter. A couple of years ago I wrote to the HMRC Tax Credit office to tell them my friend had died. They wrote to my friend thanking her for notifying them of her change of circumstances and to let them know if they changed again in the future. For UK residents the systems do catch up with each other in a couple of weeks and any money lost is miniscule in the greater scheme of things. You have to remember that DWP is still running computer systems built in the 1980s & 1990s. Where there is a huge problem is, where people live abroad and the relatives keep drawing the money as there isn’t a system to notify the UK Government of these deaths. Most only come to light when the Queen’s 100 year birthday cards list is compiled and investigations are done to check addresses. I doubt this money is ever recovered. This is where your concern needs to be focused, especially with the huge future increase in foreign pension provision that is coming down the line.

  25. Bob
    Posted August 6, 2018 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    I saw in a newspaper article that Yemen is home to 30 British pensioners, all aged over 100, who are claiming full state pensions.Life expectancy in Yemen = 64.

    According to figures provided by the Institute for Public Policy Research, there are 2,667 UK citizens living in Yemen and yet the DWP is paying 2,870 state pensioners there.

    And this will be the tip of the iceberg.

    Our civil service not very good at joining dots.

  26. NHSGP
    Posted August 6, 2018 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    So you think giving the Tax man access to medical records is a good thing?

    Perhaps you should publish all your medical records here, so others can make a judgement.

    Reply No! Just the Death certificate!

  27. margaret howard
    Posted August 6, 2018 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    I’m surprised Mr Redwood hasn’t tried to blame EU membership for this mess!

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted August 6, 2018 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

      @Margaret. Bit below the belt even for you Margaret. Your sarcasm is typical of the type of remarks we have to listen to from remainers.

  28. a-tracy
    Posted August 6, 2018 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Why must things within government take so long to sort out, I haven’t registered a death but registering 3 births was easily done in the hospital they were born in the following day, why can’t this person registering the babies in the hospital also key in death certificates and notify all the relevant authorities?

    When your government wants to make changes to company reporting you give inadequate notice, our accountants told us that all business accounts VAT returns are going digital in April 2019 with a cost to business of new software to accommodate this. We’d previously heard nothing about this, yet it applies to all businesses even those not be audited. If the government want compulsory quarterly digital reporting shouldn’t they provide the software free and shouldn’t they be getting this message out to small businesses quickly so they can make changes to their other software in order to incorporate it?

  29. Posted August 6, 2018 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    delays can happen for good reasons; see link
    https://www.themdu.com/guidance-and-advice/guides/signing-death-certificates-and-cremation-forms

    It may not be obvious particularly in the frail elderly what the cause of death is and autopsy is for some families distressing therefore referral to a coroner can add delay.
    Many doctors work part time and as the doctor may well need to also sign the cremation form, they then must have seen the deceased in the last 14 days .This means the doctor able to sign may be off duty and certification will have to wait their return to work.

    The undertaker may have taken the deceased to a funeral parlour a good distance from the GPs place of work. This can be a real headache as one has to find time during a busy day to visit the undertakers premises during office hours and examine the body and also take time to find a local doctor to sign part 2 of a cremation form.This is often difficult.

  30. old salt
    Posted August 6, 2018 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Seems easier to carry muddling on rather than employ more staff to sort out issues arising. Our experience with deceased family members leaves a lot to be desired with complaints of overworking combined with staff cuts etc. Crazy cuts with the vast recent increase in population.

  31. KZB
    Posted August 6, 2018 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    The “Tell Me Once” site is Orwellian. Tell us once, so we can cut your household income in half, we “do it all FOR YOU”. Thanks, we are eternally grateful for this favour at our time of grief.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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