A letter sent to about 4,000 retired people in Jersey asking if they still exist has been described as offensive by some of those who received it. The Certificate of Existence was sent to people who used to work for the States of Jersey by the pensions department as part of an audit. The department said it wanted to make sure money was not paid into the accounts of people who had died.
Paul Dwyer said he understood why it was needed, but it was badly
handled. The pensioner said: "For me it was alright but there are elderly people,
perhaps 85 or 90 and in receipt of a pension from a spouse who has passed away,
who may be a little bit anxious and concerned about the way it was sent to
them. If they were sent a letter before to say 'we are doing an audit' it may have
been easier on them."
Ron Amy, head of the pensions fund, said although the
audit was the best way of getting up to date information, they should have been
more sensitive. "Pensions schemes really have to do these exercises because we do not always
get told when somebody dies," he said. "You can get a circumstance where there is a joint account and one party dies
and the other party carries on collecting the pension without letting us knows
the other person has died."
Pierre, who is 85, said getting a letter called "certificate
of existence" was worrying. "It is bureaucracy gone mad, you have to fill in a form and get it
countersigned just to prove you exist," he said. "I went down to the office and was prepared to have a ding dong and the chap
said 'you haven't signed it'. I told him 'I'm standing here and do exist'."