The sad costs of death – Improving Tell Us Once.

Tell Us Once is a great idea. It looks as if the government wants to help the relatives of those who have just died, and to be efficient at the same time.  I recently suggested it does not work out like that. Today I wish to explain a bit more of the details.

The first odd thing about Tell Us Once is someone registering a death with a Registrar is told about it at the end of the interview. Much of the data needed for Tell Us Once has been  collected and accepted by the Registrar, but he or she does not then press a button to save all that in Tell Us Once format, nor help the relative with the Tell Us Once declaration. Instead the person is issued with a website address and a unique access code and told to go home and go through the whole registration process again on their own, telling the computer what they have just told the Registrar and answering some extra questions about whether the person who has died was receiving benefits and a pension. This makes it Tell Us Twice. It can  also be difficult for the relative to do, as they may not know the financial details of the deceased. Surely the state, primed with the dead person’s National Insurance number, name, address and tax identifier knows what money it is sending the person?

The second odd thing is that not all parts of the government sign up to Tell Us Once. So if, for example, the deceased had a few premium bonds Tell Us Once would not help the relatives as National Savings are not in the system. Why can’t all parts of national and local government be in it?

The third odd thing is it may not work. The relative of the deceased may still get separate communications asking for information already supplied from the Tax authorities. Payments may still be made of pensions and benefits after the state knows the details of the death. Dead patients may stay on GP lists.

I have asked Ministers to look into this. I do so because I think grieving relatives deserve better. I have also done so because the current system  is a waste of taxpayers money, sending money to the deceased and then going through a complex process to get it back.

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71 Comments

  1. Cheshire Girl
    Posted October 6, 2018 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    I have had very recent experience if this, as my Husband died at the end of June.

    At first, I thought that Tell us Once’ was a good thing, but I’m not so sure now. The procedure was exactly as you described. I think the main objective of this is to make sure the deceased has paid every penny of their taxes. The HMRC had been in touch with my Solicitor, before I had the chance to see her. The DWP were quite good at upgrading my state pension. We used Tell Us Once four days after my Husband died.
    The people mentioned on Tell us Once appear to have been informed.
    I cant really add much more. I would be interested to hear how others got on with it.

  2. maybyso
    Posted October 6, 2018 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    This is all stuff that should be done- should have been done a long time ago- don’t even know why we are discussing it- JR has asked Ministers to look into it- enough said

  3. Nig l
    Posted October 6, 2018 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    Why doesn’t the Dr issue a death certificate electronically, firstly automatically archiving that patient from their list and then sent to a Tell us Once type data base, as you say, improved to run properly, but cutting out the physical need to see a registrar locally.

    That visit is stressful, can involve much travel for often the elderly survivor who in turn needs the support if a friend or member of the family to get there. My round trip to take my mother to register my large fathers death was 100 miles effectively meaning a day off work.

    We get professional politicians who have no outside experience, spads to MP etc plus ministers appointed, many for non ability reasons, failing Grayling easily comes to mind and a cradle to grave Civil Service and people who are brought in often leave because of the mind blowing bureaucracy, so it is no wonder that HMG struggles with its efficiency.

    Instead of showing she has got Corbynitus, the disease of spending money she hasn’t got, TM should appoint someone reporting directly to her, you would be a prime candidate , to bring the machine of government into the 21sr century.

    • DominicJ
      Posted October 6, 2018 at 8:24 am | Permalink

      ” failing Grayling easily comes to mind”
      Not a helpful addition

      The Pacer fleet causing much of the chaos was due to be replaced by 2005
      The Northern Electrification began in 2010
      Grayling became minister in 2016

    • Lifelogic
      Posted October 6, 2018 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      Well the last thing the bureaucrats want is fewer staff, fewer departments or simpler systems. If you have a new plan it usually means a new department, the old one remains and we get a new transition facilitation department too.

      How is the Office of Tax Simplification getting on. The tax system is probably at least twice as complex as when it was created in July 2010. How much has been spent on the department so far. Have they had nice bonuses?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 6, 2018 at 9:30 am | Permalink

        Countless totally unproductive jobs created due to the idiotic tax complexity and huge tax increases pushed by Osborne and Hammond. It all does wonders to kill UK productivity and the UK’s ability to compete in world markets.

        Well done to these IHT threshold ratters, landlord & tenant robbers and pension muggers. Yet May and Hammond still want to re-invent themselves at the party of jobs, business and even as tax cutters!

  4. Steve
    Posted October 6, 2018 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    JR

    Ah but….there are advantages to telling twice; it means the Civil Servant you are telling once gets to keep their otherwise redundant position and protect his / her big fat pension.

    Just one example of public services having been pimped and Civil Servants paid with taxpayer’s money allowed even longer time to spend on their politically correct lazy, unionistic left wing backsides.

    Arguably as Civil Servant’s duties are going online why are they still in their jobs ? Anyone else in the private sector would have to accept the possibility of redundancy. It’s everywhere these days, especially at local authorities and the DWP.

    The way around it is to be computer illiterate, don’t own one and don’t know of anyone who does. Make THEM do what they are paid to do, i.e. be publicly accountable, public facing and public SERVING !

  5. Stred
    Posted October 6, 2018 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    The Cabinet Office and ministries are full of Nudgers working out smart ways to nudge the plebs into behaving sensibly, in the civil servant’s strangely superior mind. Perhaps, you could ask them to nudge themselves.

  6. matthu
    Posted October 6, 2018 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    Tell us Once could also be improved if it was integrated with pension schemes that send regular requests for confirmation that the pension receiver is still alive, including those from EU countries. The problem is exacerbated when the pensioner is a recipient of multiple pensions.

    A relative of mine had a relatively minor pension which suddenly stopped paying out because a proof of still being alive had apparently got mislaid in the post, and this was only picked up a year later when the tax return was being prepared.

    If it was possible to register each pension with a centralized Tell us Once portal, then a lot of administration could be eliminated.

  7. Lifelogic.
    Posted October 6, 2018 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    Indeed but daft bureaucratic, time wasting systems, pissing tax payers money down the drain is just what the government does best. Not their money after all so what do they care about delivering value and efficiency. Similarly when families move abroad the state often pay their old GPs for many years despite the fact that you have reported your emigration to the government.

    Look at the tax system, the absurd division of income tax into income tax, employers NI and employees NI all with different rules, thresholds and rates. Then the compulsory pensions, and student loan repayments on top of this. In total deductions can be nearly 50% (this often even for fairly low paid workers). The only reason for the split seems to be to disguise the circa 50% figure so the employee is fooled that income tax is 20% and not nearer the 40%+ true figure.

    Approaching half of GDP is spend (largely wasted) by government but what value do the public get? Police who have largely given up on most crimes, many feckless who have a live living off others on benefits, a dreadful, virtual state monopoly, health care system with generally appalling outcomes and massive delays for a developed nation, a second rate education system, expensive energy by design, a tax system that wastes million on admin and created millions of pointless jobs to navigate it, an expensive and restrictive planning system that pushes up property costs, similarly with OTT green crap building regulations, a lack of airports and insufficient road space full of pot holes …….

    • JoolsB
      Posted October 6, 2018 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      Totall agree. What we need is a Conservative Government instead of the bunch of incompetent socialists we currently have masquerading as Conservatives. John is in the wrong party.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 6, 2018 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

        Indeed but what is needed is to turn the Conservative Party back into a sensible party with policies that actually work.

  8. Sakara Gold
    Posted October 6, 2018 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    This sounds like an idea thought up by a low level civil servant – which was poached by their superiors, misunderstood and pushed through. Solution? Issue computer workstations to the Registrars! Except they would want to move up a grade on the salary scale to relect the additional skills and workload

    One benefit of having multiple government computer systems – none of which are linked – is that the Russian GRU hackers cannot hack into it all simultaneusly

  9. Mark B
    Posted October 6, 2018 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    I agree. But a lot is assumed that they both:

    a) have a computer.

    b) have internet access.

    I think it would be a good idea to involve the solicitors at probate early enough to carry out some or all of the work if asked and / or required. They have the necessary skill, connections etc to get the job done with as little trouble to the grieving.

    • zorro
      Posted October 6, 2018 at 8:21 am | Permalink

      Agreed, I engaged a trusted solicitor at an early stage (father’s death) to deal with probate, but also completed Tell Us Once and monitored the process as there were some complications.

      The computer systems do not need to be linked but can be set to inform the relevant agencies. One of the most annoying money spinners is the request by government departments for evidence that the person has died when you have reported it to them anyway and it should be recorded on a central BMD registry!!

      zorro

    • Alan Jutson
      Posted October 6, 2018 at 9:15 am | Permalink

      Mark B

      You do not need to involve solicitors at all for probate, and/or to use them to sort out and act as executors, costs a fortune.

      With proper planning all put in place, the executor (usually a trusted family member) can do it all.

      For the first time in my Life I found HMRC very helpful when having to act as executor to my parents affairs.

      The latest Probate charge idea is however an absolute disgrace, and is simply another death tax based on a fixed percentage of the value of an estaate.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 6, 2018 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

        Indeed the solicitors wanted a fortune to deal with my aunts fairly trivial estate and all that was needed was to submit a few forms, pay the IHT and spit the assets between two beneficiaries. Also solicitors often deligate most tasks to you or accountants, values, stock brokers etc. Who still their large bills on top.

        If you know a child who is not too bright then tell them even dim lawyers can earn a very comfortable living. They even charge £20 just to certify a copy passport – taking all of 30 seconds. Far more to certify that you have signed and understood a loan document or other agreement as is often needed.

      • Old person
        Posted October 6, 2018 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

        Yes, solicitors will charge. There is so much unfairness at the end of life.

        Official executors from Banks and Solicitors will charge at least 3% of the estate for their services in settling probate.

        As an executor, before you can sell any asset, you have to pay any IHT due first by borrowing money at exorbitant fees from Banks.

        The deceased person has to pay for their own funeral out of their estate (or their legal partner pays). Most Banks and Building Societies will release funds from any account directly to the funeral directors.

        Funeral directors are very quick to have a relative sign a contract for a funeral even though relatives are not legally obliged to pay for it. There is nothing to force siblings to chip in for a funeral if there is no estate. A paupers funeral is exactly the same as a normal funeral without all the fancy cars, and is paid for by the local council without carrying any stigma. The word pauper is no longer used.
        These endless TV adverts to pay for your funeral should be forced to give potential customers the full facts if you cannot afford to pay for a funeral.

        The advice should be:
        1. Make sure you die in hospital – the NHS trust will store the body for free in the mortuary.
        2. Forget about undertakers and take the body directly to the smokery after obtaining the certificate for cremation.

        The Czech government solved the identification problems years ago by giving each new born a birth number followed by so many digits.

        • Posted October 6, 2018 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

          We should all have just ONE number that follows us through life that is used for everything we need/do/take part in/receive/vote for/save/give away/etc.

      • NHSGP
        Posted October 6, 2018 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

        So why are they so desperate to tax people?

        Why is the Tory party going after its own supporters?

        Ah yes, that 209 bn a year debt servicing cost on a 13 trillion pound debt.

        All bar the 1.6 trillion borrowing hidden off the books.

        If a company director did the same as MPs and civil servants, they would be jailed for a very long time.

        • Lifelogic.
          Posted October 7, 2018 at 3:36 am | Permalink

          Indeed and if the NHS were a private company, killing the thousands it does every year through incompetence, rationing and gross negligence what would happen to the directors or workers? Yet serial health ministers do not even attempt to reform or sort out the appalling system.

          They just keeps saying sorry for those deaths, that suffering, these delays and the serial gross negligence. Then they further increase taxes on private medicine so as to kill nearly all the more efficient competition.

  10. Alan Jutson
    Posted October 6, 2018 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    Amazing that the Government has accepted some PR Companies slogan/spin, probably at great taxpayers expense, and then does not properly implement it.

    The stupid thing is most who die are likely to be old, and their partners probably less computer literate than the Registrar.

    The idea is certainly good, but as usual the working of it is not.

    Just some other Departments who perhaps should be told:
    The Passport office and DVLA, to avoid the possibility of criminals using a deceased persons name/identity to gain official documentation for fraudulent purposes.

    Why is it so many government ideas are so devoid of practical common sense.

    • Duncan
      Posted October 6, 2018 at 8:12 am | Permalink

      ‘Why is it so many government ideas are so devoid of practical common sense.’

      They’re designed to be inefficient and costly. Can’t you see that?

      The public sector is not self-financing and therefore it must find methods of increasing its annual budgets. In the private sector we must drive sales up and push down on costs. The public sector performs the opposite. They drive up budgets by driving up costs. If costs fell the public sector budget would also fall as they’d need less money to operate

      The death knell of expanding public sector budgets is efficiency and productivity

  11. Andy
    Posted October 6, 2018 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    The problem is that our interactions with the state and its numerous database are all rather piecemeal. What we really need is for it all to be in one place – but that requires the sort of IT project which nobody, especially government, is any good at. Why – for example – is my NHS number different from my driving licence number and different from my passport number and my HMRC number and my National Insurance number? What we need is a new database encompassing all of this. But we should not make the mistake of trying to merge existing systems. We should start from scratch. This will not be much help for those of us around now but it will save money for our children’s generation – which is something Baby Boomers are not very good at.

    Incidentally I see a ‘Brexit deal’ is near. It has always been inevitable that there would be a deal – so we should not be surprised. The devil will be in the detail but the chances of this deal being better than what we have now is, I suggest, somewhere below zero.

    • Anonymous
      Posted October 6, 2018 at 9:07 am | Permalink

      What the Boomers were good at was voting real Conservatives into office and averting nuclear conflaguration. They ignored the Left and broke the USSR.

      You can thank them for the fact that you are still alive or at least subsistance farming.

      Funny how there was nothing wrong with the Boomers when they voted to Remain in 1975.

      It’s only when people vote in a way you dislike that you get rude.

      —-

      He’s won , John.

      Please stop him posting here. He seems incapable of doing so without insult or hate mongering.

      I realise now that May’s little conference jig was a “f**** you !” to us.

      If your purpose is to post Andy to show us all how awful Remain are then it has no use unless you wish to hurt us.

      • Andy
        Posted October 6, 2018 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

        I am perfectly comfortable with people voting in a different way from me.

        What I am very uncomfortable with is a rejection of facts, a denial of evidence, the dismissing of experts and the branding of those who disagree as traitors.

        You might be comfortable with your country sliding towards dangerous extremism, I’m not.

        It is a very short slope from where many Brexiteers stand to the darkest of dark places. You are all dangerously close to unleashing something you can not control.

        • Richard1
          Posted October 6, 2018 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

          This sort of talk is absurd nonsense. All that is happening is the U.K. is making a change to its trading relationship with the EU, moving from being part of a project of political integration, expressly designed to move government up from the national to the supranational level, to one based on free trade and mutual cooperation. Once everyone has calmed down there is no reason why it shouldn’t be much better all round, given there has never been majority support in the U.K. for political integration.

        • Mike Wilson
          Posted October 6, 2018 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

          It is a very short slope from where many Brexiteers stand to the darkest of dark places. You are all dangerously close to unleashing something you can not control.

          When you are looking for someone to blame, look in the mirror. If you ignore people for generations – if government after government insists on things that many people don’t want – sooner or later there will be a backlash. That, in my opinion, is what the Leave vote represents. A chance to say ‘no’ to what Tory and Labour governments have done.

        • margaret
          Posted October 7, 2018 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

          Facts and truth are not the same thing.

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

      For a moment there, Andy, I was agreeing with you. Then you had to spoil it with the usual ageism insult. Followed by another. How boringly predictable.

      You just can’t help letting yourself down, can you?

      • Posted October 6, 2018 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

        PS ”….save money for our children’s generation – which is something Baby Boomers are not very good at.” Perhaps you’d like to explain your view of the phenomenon of the ”Bank of Mum and Dad”.
        And perhaps you’d like to explain too why, exactly, one generation should actually be EXPECTED to ”save” for the benefit of the next? (As obviously your own folks did – to your benefit.)

        • margaret howard
          Posted October 8, 2018 at 10:28 am | Permalink

          LJones

          “PS ”….save money for our children’s generation – which is something Baby Boomers are not very good at.” Perhaps you’d like to explain your view of the phenomenon of the ”Bank of Mum and Dad”
          ==

          It was the Baby Boomers who started the trend of using their properties as investment gambles rather than places to live in.

          Dinner parties from the 70s onward were taken over by boastful claims about how much their houses were worth since they bought them. The house we bought in the 1980s here in the backwater of East Anglia for £25 000 is now ‘worth’ more than 10x that.

          The so-called ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ is the only way we can now get rid of our offspring cuckoos in the nest.

          Ludicrous.

  12. Duncan
    Posted October 6, 2018 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    This is another rather minor example of the Byzantine nature of government at all level and is absolutely deliberate in its attempt to confuse. Complexity and disconnection add to the cost base which supports a public sector organisation’s claim for expanded budgets year on year. The higher the cost base the more funding these State bodies demand.

    It is the nature of the State. The State spends without a care in the world, because it can, and the private sector without recourse to the magic money tree, provide the productivity and the efficiency to finance their abuse.

    The State’s become our master and we in the private sector its servant. we can thank to the Tory party for continuing to fund and finance Labour’s client State engineering

    Part of me hope that Marxist Labour achieves power and bankrupt’s the UK and the Exchequer with their Marxist policies. That would then give small State Tories a reason to vote Conservative again

    • Nig l
      Posted October 6, 2018 at 8:11 am | Permalink

      Indeed they waste our money. One if the problems is annual accounting and the way they allocate and deal with budgets. There is no benefit, unlike in the private sector of coming in under budget because it gies back to the Treasury and next years will be cut accordingly.

      I worked in an organisation that if it was likely to underspend, would get it’s suppliers to issue advance invoices for work or other items to be done/provided in the subsequent year or poured money out through last quarters advertising etc. That is why in Jan to March you notice all sorts of agencies suddenly raising awareness via the Media.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 6, 2018 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

        Not their money not they who get the value. They care not what they spend nor what (if any) value they get for the spend. So long as they are paid and well pensioned and perhaps get a CBE, Knighthood in the end they are happy.

        May and Hammond clearly think that the cure to big government is to have even bigger government and even more tax and regulation … but the only effective cure is to reduce the scope of government – get government out of the business. Halve the size of it and release these people to get a productive job instead.

        They think that the cure to big government is to have bigger government… the only effective cure is to reduce the scope of government – get government out of business and out of people’s lives as far as possible.

    • Steve
      Posted October 6, 2018 at 8:43 am | Permalink

      Duncan

      “Part of me hopes that Marxist Labour achieves power and bankrupts the UK, and the Exchequer with their Marxist policies. That would then give small State Tories a reason to vote Conservative again”

      Well, if Labour get in I shall have but one thing to say to conservatives; ‘serves you bloody right’

      If the conservatives loose the next election it will be because of the sell out over brexit. They will be finished as a political party, and a number of them will certainly not feel safe living in the UK, there will be no forgiveness or second chance over this one.

      Sell us out if you dare.

  13. Rien Huizer
    Posted October 6, 2018 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Mr Redwood, there is a simple solution, a European-style resident’s register with a single number for taxation and other services the government provides (social care, voting, births, deaths and marriages). Makes it easier to track illegals too..

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted October 6, 2018 at 8:10 am | Permalink

      How do you cope with that under GDPR?

    • David Price
      Posted October 6, 2018 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      There is a single number – the NI number, the problem has been that govt depts don’t always talk to each other. There have been great improvements but it appears there are still some holdouts in the bureaucracy.

      • a-tracy
        Posted October 8, 2018 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

        David the first number you are given as a baby is your national health number.

        “Your NHS Number is different from your National Insurance (NI) number, which is used for tax, benefits and pensions. If you have any questions about your National Insurance number, you can contact your local office of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).”

        Why don’t they just give you a unique NI number at the start and use it for everything?

        Our local Lib Dems want to cut the costs of running the Town Council by using the free Guildhall they have instead of paying high rent to the County Council – why don’t they just do it, why does the Labour Council want to double everyone’s local cost, this will cost them the next election because the Lib Dems are making the running on this and people want to save money on their high Council tax bills.

        • David Price
          Posted October 9, 2018 at 2:09 am | Permalink

          I don’t think I have ever been asked for my NHS number and I only know it from my online medical records. My NI gets used by all and sundry.

          I agree there should just be one and the NI makes sense.

  14. Annette
    Posted October 6, 2018 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    I’m not too certain that improvements at the Registrar stage will be that effective. By the time I’ve reached that stage, I’ve already informed all of the usual suspects & even contacting the DWP the day after someone died was too late to prevent an overpayment. I’d originally called to inform them regarding Attendance Allowance, then discovered that the same call covered state pension.
    It strikes me that perhaps the DWP, or indeed any of the state collectors, could initiate the ‘Tell Me Once’ process on first contact. I say the DWP, as they cover state pensions, benefits, tax credits & NI contributions which impacts almost all people who have died. They have the tax & NI numbers to hand & could ‘trigger’ the process on that first call/contact. The confirmation letter could include information of the state depts that do not participate & the other places that may need to be informed via separate contact.

  15. Adam
    Posted October 6, 2018 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    Telling once is simple.
    Quaint is interesting, but why do Registrars work like Dickensian clerks?
    Registrars should enter computer data, not calligraphy contests.
    Even the Informant could do that from home.
    Acting Govt depts should know instantly who lives.
    Addressing letters on wood pulp to dead ‘uns is like trying to reincarnate a coffin into a tree.

  16. bigneil
    Posted October 6, 2018 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Strange coincidence this topic today. Only yesterday a friend told me this. She had heard, through the grapevine, that a relative had died – SIX weeks ago. Not only was it news to her, it was news to the whole family of the deceased. Apparently the young man had died and there had been a funeral – – with NONE of the family being informed. They don’t even know where or how he died or who organised the funeral. Even the lad’s own father didn’t know.

    Is this a case of something else that the Police no longer bother with? Like shoplifting and lost property ?

  17. William Long
    Posted October 6, 2018 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    This is a good example of what happens when the State tries to implement even a good idea. It just sounds from what you say that nobody has bothered to think this through from start to finish as a single process. Another illustration of why state socialism can never work, but try telling May and Hammond that. I very much doubt the ministers you have told have taken much notice.

  18. Dannny7
    Posted October 6, 2018 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    I had to use it earlier in the year. It worked about 50%. Council tax was fine. It triggered a letter from HMRC within a few days, but that letter then asked me to confirm the same information again. It didn’t work properly for DWP. The state pension carried on being paid for 4 weeks. I only found out some weeks later when I received post-death bank statements. I then had to phone DWP to find out how to pay them back. On the other hand DWP did tell HMRC because the final tax statement was correct.! There was also an attendance allowance. Payment stopped (correctly) but then I received letters asking for info already provided through Tell us Once. When I phoned, I was told that the info hadn’t come through from the Tell us Once office to the attendance allowance office. So it is not a joined up service. I would use the service again but it isn’t quite as good as it appears at first sight. For an older or emotionally fragile person, it would create as much upset as it saved.

  19. A.Sedgwick
    Posted October 6, 2018 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    There are endless examples of State crass inefficiencies. When you have a PM who thinks “dancing” up to the podium to pop music is appropriate then no wonder we are in the mess we are. I read fewer rail season tickets are being sold, presumably because of union disruption. An area where drastic action is needed, when HS2 comes more nonsense. Then the BBC is paying obscene money (ours) for people to play records and read the news. Oh yes the French company building Hinckley C has major problems with that reactor technology. Although Boris has his failings – who doesn’t – he would shake things up.
    Get rid of May.

  20. Geoff not Hoon
    Posted October 6, 2018 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    I am currently ‘trying’ to handle the affairs of a 98 year old neighbour who suffered a stroke in April. He has no living relatives. Solicitors quite rightly will not take on Power Of Attorney requests so every step of the way with the State, banks, Social Services hospitals etc is a long drawn out process made worse by the 2018 Data Protection Act. When I asked Social Services whose responsibility it will be to register his death should it occur they could only advise me to seek legal advice! The DVLA have written to him twice with realms of paper should he want to keep his driving licence. DVLA is a powerful arm of the state and yet there records have nothing to tell them someone is still in hospital with likely dementia. Computers have brought us a long way people tell us. It seems to me they still have an awful long way to go and Tell us Once should be part of any overhaul.

    • a-tracy
      Posted October 8, 2018 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

      Geoff thank goodness for people like you.

      This sort of State bureaucracy makes my blood boil, you shouldn’t have to hire a solicitor to help out a neighbour for goodness sakes.

  21. Anonymous
    Posted October 6, 2018 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    This is not a problem.

    The best thing to do when someone dies is to get busy.

    Organising the funeral and dealing with death duties was a blessed relief from the grim reality of the last year for me.

    Hey ho.

    Young Remainers think we have experienced nothing, know nothing and don’t know how to do anything.

    I have raised two boys to adulthood – the very peak of the professional class.

    I held down a highly responsible job whilst running a home. To this day I still have charge of £50m worth of stock.

  22. Scott W
    Posted October 6, 2018 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    I went online this morning to renew my 70+ driving licence. Notwithstanding the existence of a Driver Number and associated information held; the system required me to enter – Name and address, date of birth, Government Gateway No; NI No; Passport No; Mother’ name and place of birth. Email address and telephone number were optional. There may have been others. I was rewarded with the ‘we are checking your details’ screen and then a system fault screen. It lost my details. The paper version has many questions. On reading the completion notes most of these do not need to be answered. “Save time, do it online!” Wot a WOT. Nay bother . . . . .
    If HMRC can make Self Assessment online work well why can’t DVLA and the rest? I like the idea of a single ID for the administrative savings it could bring. I fear what the government might choose to do with such an opportunity.

  23. David Price
    Posted October 6, 2018 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    I went through this process a couple of times before tell-me-once was established and found government departments to be straightforward to deal with even then.

    The people who needed a kick up the backside were the financial and utility companies who really need to get their acts together. There is a large telecoms provider who I will never have dealings with after the way they treated my mother after my father passed away.

    • forthurst
      Posted October 6, 2018 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

      Certainly my experience. However, the Tories need to understand that making gifts prior to decease taxable when there is no corresponding obligation on donors or recipients or banks or pension providers including the government to maintain records which are available for subsequent inspection so that calculations of taxable amounts can be made can turn the work of an executor into that of an archaeologist. As to dealing with utility companies especially if a repayment is due is certainly no gas. Acting as executor, I eventually had to sell an outstanding debt to myself as an individual so that I could complete the administration and then take the debtor to court and even then their solicitor tried to pay me off without paying my court costs.

  24. Denis Cooper
    Posted October 6, 2018 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Off-topic, I’ve dropped a little line to the editor of the Maidenhead Advertiser:

    “Dear Sir

    I expect the Duchess of Sussex was pleased to be shown the rare copy of the American Declaration of Independence preserved in the county records office in Chichester.

    For my part, it triggered a train of thought on how Theresa May might have proceeded, if she and not George Washington had been charged with putting the declaration into effect.

    No doubt she would have repeatedly and vacuously told the American troops “Independence means Independence”, while quietly looking for every opportunity to surrender.

    And surreptitiously seeking to replace almost all of the existing “political bands” connecting the thirteen colonies with Great Britain with new bands under a different name – a form of dominion status, maybe, rather than full independence.

    Internet search engines throw up countless instances of Theresa May unequivocally stating:

    “We have been very clear that we will be leaving the customs union and in future outside of that customs union be able to develop our own independent trade policy”,

    but now it seems increasingly likely that will not be the case.

    And strangely we are to take it as a negotiating triumph for the UK government that the EU may reluctantly agree to keep the whole of the UK under its customs thumb, rather than just Northern Ireland as it would prefer.

    Allegedly this would only be a “temporary” measure, until of course it became clear that the Irish government would veto any change in the future.

    If Tory MPs fail to get their leader back under control now this could be the end of their party.

    Yours etc”

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted October 6, 2018 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      This is from today’s editorial in the Irish Times:

      https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/editorial/the-irish-times-view-on-brexit-a-second-vote-remains-in-play-1.3653122

      “Ireland, as THE MOST AFFECTED EU MEMBER STATE, benefits from that solidarity, but WE HAVE OUR OWN INTEREST in maintaining close political and economic relations with Britain after Brexit, as well as in keeping the Irish border open and NORTHERN IRELAND CLOSE TO THE EU CUSTOMS UNION AND SINGLE MARKET. The Government is balancing these extraordinarily difficult elements with skill and determination so far.”

      There is no time limit on that Irish government determination to keep (at least) Northern Ireland “close to the EU customs union and single market”; whatever Liam Fox and others may suggest there may NEVER come a time when the Irish government will voluntarily accept that there is no longer any need for (at least) Northern Ireland to remain fully converged, effectively under all relevant EU law, for both the EU customs union AND the EU single market.

      • Sir Joe Soap
        Posted October 6, 2018 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

        I think there is some heart to be taken from the CLOSE TO rather then WITHIN description here. NI and GB can be as close to the customs union and single market as we can negotiate, but we can never be in it or ruled by the same rules which could be amended without our veto (which is de facto in it). The distinction is clear.

        That’s the point.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted October 7, 2018 at 8:07 am | Permalink

          Well, obviously we could no longer be WITHIN the EU’s customs or single market arrangements between its member states when we were no longer one of its a member states, then we could only be part of some extended arrangement . That doesn’t stop people loosely speaking about keeping us in the single market or staying in the customs union, or now in Labour’s case “a” customs union. But we now rarely have a veto which we could use in the EU arrangements, normally we only have a vote, in my view it makes relatively little difference whether we are in the EU arrangements without a veto and with only a small share of the votes or we are in some wider arrangement without a veto, a vote or even a say. As I wrote here just before the referendum I might have reconsidered how to vote if we were being offered the right to unilaterally disapply any EU proposal, and in fact that is the false prospect that Theresa May offers to try to lure us into accepting her “common rule book” scheme.

      • a-tracy
        Posted October 8, 2018 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

        Time to align the tax benefits to Northern Ireland that Southern Ireland enjoy and start to move industries to Northern Ireland like the 80% cheddar cheese we buy!

        We can run the UK to the tune of the Irish fiddle.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted October 6, 2018 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

      Indeed please get rid of this appalling, socialist, remainer dope now and her equally appalling side kick Philip Hammond.

  25. ukretired123
    Posted October 6, 2018 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    If ever there was a case for streamlining the layers of big government this should be the trigger. It is totally wasteful of peoples time and economic resources that in the 21st century digital age the Civil Service is out of date and out of touch with the real world as also reflected in their embarrassing Brexit ideas.

  26. libertarian
    Posted October 6, 2018 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    I used this service last year when my father died, apart from the registrar which appears to be some kind of handwriting service I thought it had all gone well, until I got a letter from local council commiserating for the loss of my mother and removing her from their records.

    The state shouldn’t be allowed to run anything, they are monumentally bad

  27. matthu
    Posted October 6, 2018 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    If you have Tell Us Once for registering a death, how about Tell Us Once for registering a Power of Attorney or a Court of Protection Order?

    Then every bank, electricity company, gas company, telephone company etc. could be referred to the central register instead of each requiring a certified copy of the original document.

    Makes sense…

  28. margaret
    Posted October 6, 2018 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    The way our freedoms are taken away from is not just a big issue . It is sad . If folks are going to the crematorium why can’t they have a simple , not elaborate coffin, with moneys only paid for those workers. Why can’t a simple death certificate be scanned into a system once.The complications piecemeal IT bring about is not only silly , it is dangerous. Yes the departments are overcrowded with workers who sit at desks , doing very little , having a laugh whilst other public sectors workers take the responsibility for peoples lives at a ridiculous salary. What is more is the NHS office staff are superannuated and the primary care clinicians are not!

  29. Bod
    Posted October 6, 2018 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    Tell us once?

    Tell ’em nothing is a better idea!

  30. Den
    Posted October 6, 2018 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    Again sensible questions and clear logic John.
    If the Registrar has all the answers AND so advises Government Departments why is it that sometimes, the DWP continues to pay benefits to the decreased? Or HMRC sometimes continues to hound them? You have mentioned these departments but without comment on their performance. However, I can make a calculated guess who is not pulling their dead weight, Pun intended, for effect!

    I would add to those of your own, the question,
    “What happens when grieving family members are not PC savvy or do not have access to a computer or that they are not connected to the Internet”?
    It is a fact that now, in 2018, we have many living into their nineties and it should be obvious that so many will NOT be Computer/Internet users.

  31. Bob
    Posted October 6, 2018 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    It’s reported in the press that the Chancellor may be planning another raid on pensions. Why don’t the Tories ever consider a raid on govt squandering?

  32. Colin Hide
    Posted October 7, 2018 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    Honestly, you couldn’t make this stuff up.

    One of the very sad things about this, and previous governments, is that we seem to lack basic competence in basic administration.

    What you suggest makes perfect sense.

    And the government should not roll this out until all parties are signed up.

    If the app, Fix My Street, can determine where the problem is that I’m reporting and send it too the appropriate local authority, the Registrar should be about to do all that you ask when they register a death.

    Keep pressing John!

  33. SueL
    Posted October 7, 2018 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    With the incidence of dementia and poor mobility on the increase, many families have entered into Powers of Attorney to help ease decision making and execution. Sadly, PoAs rarely allow for efficiency and can be more burdensome than wheeling the elderly into the ever decreasing numbers of banks and building societies. Furthermore, the admin hurdles of trying to help with cash management inevitably mean that these relatives are forced to take miserly returns on their savings which would otherwise be ear-marked for the costs of care support.

    Tell Us Once is part of a wider problem where society as a whole needs to make it easier for carers / relatives to manage care support. TUO is also not linked to the banking system so banking arrangements can only be changed when the widow / widower is also wheeled into the bank with evidence (Death Certificate) that their spouse has indeed died.

    Doubtless fraud prevention is important – but these challenges do not seem to aid security and security can be accommodated in other ways.

  34. Trimperley
    Posted October 8, 2018 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    Looking at the other end of life why do we have two types of birth certificate. A short one with just the baby’s details and a long version which has the parents details. If you ask someone to produce their birth certificate there is confusion as to which certificate is needed.

  35. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted October 10, 2018 at 1:09 am | Permalink

    Talking of death, why can’t we have assisted suicide in this country instead of having to traipse across to Switzerland? Safeguards? Sure, but don’t let the God squad dictate our laws. My sister is a lay preacher and she lent me a book entitled ‘Denial of the Soul’ by an American evangelist. In the course of arguing against suicide, he asserted that the American First Amendment guaranteed freedom of religion but not the freedom of no religion. What do you all make of that?

    Warming to the subject, when is UK law going to prohibit Sharia courts, and when is a disestablished Church of England going to lose its entitlement to 24 peerages? Under the Free School system, when are Atheistic schools going to be financed as Faith Schools are? When will taxpayers not have to fund schools that teach creationism? Why does patriotism on Remembrance Day have to have God hung round its neck?

  36. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted October 10, 2018 at 1:15 am | Permalink

    So why not just have a website with copious instructions and sack the Registrar? Once again, Mr Redwood, your heart is in the right place, but you refuse to follow the argument where it leads.

  • 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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