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Christmas Bonus

Volume 941: debated on Wednesday 14 December 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for the Social Services if he will make a statement on the double payment of the £10 Christmas bonus to certain widows.

I confirm that some widows entitled to widow's allowance, the benefit payable for the first six months of widowhood, have regrettably received a double payment of the £10 Christmas bonus.The majority of the bonuses—some 8½ million—were paid by post offices on production of the beneficiary's pension order book. These were almost entirely retirement pensioners and widows in receipt of widow's pension and widowed mother's allowance.For administrative reasons, payments to other qualifying beneficiaries, including about 40,000 widows, in receipt of widow's allowance, were made direct by Girocheque from the Department's local and central offices. Unfortunately, some payments of the bonus were made by post offices to widows in receipt of widow's allowance, so that they received two bonuses—one from the post office and one from the Department.The total number of duplicate payments made in this way is not known but they are believed to be relatively few and a number of the widows involved have returned one of the payments.