Woman left 'penniless' while waiting five weeks for first pension payment
- Credit: Lynne Patrick/Getty Images
A woman in her 60s felt so afraid she would lose everything that she contemplated taking her life as she waited five weeks for her pension to arrive.
Lynne Patrick, from Little Fransham, did not have a penny to her name as she waited more than a month for her first state pension payment.
Ms Patrick is physically disabled and relies on her son, Stuart Wyer, for care.
She had been receiving Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), which expired four days prior to her turning 66 on September 12.
But instead of her pension being paid on or near her birthday, Ms Patrick went weeks without any money.
Ms Patrick is part of a generation of women whose pension age was increased to match that of men's. Many say the change was poorly communicated, and left affected women without time to prepare, relying on benefits or zero-hour contracts to cover costs.
So severe was her fear of losing everything that she even contemplated taking her life.
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"I cannot even begin to tell you how I have felt," said Ms Patrick, who suffers from depression.
"It has been awful. I don't have a husband to talk through this sort of thing with.
"I have been so low, and now I just feel lucky I am still here. I have not even had a penny in my purse."
Ms Patrick and Mr Wyer say they repeatedly called the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), but were told there would be a delay to the pension payment due to a "backlog".
They were initially given a timeframe of "another month" and then, just this week, "another four weeks".
So the pair sought help from the Pension Action in Norfolk (PAIN) group, which has campaigned for several years on the increase to women's pension ages.
On Wednesday (October 13), member Colleen Webster contacted Ms Patrick's Mid Norfolk MP, George Freeman, and within 24 hours the issue had been resolved.
"I am completely overwhelmed," added Ms Patrick.
"I just cannot believe there is actually money going into my account."
Despite the breakthrough, Mr Wyer remains furious at what his mother had to endure and is desperate to prevent it from happening to others.
"It is just unbelievable," said the 43-year-old. "It has taken all this for the DWP to pull their fingers out."
"There could have been a suicide over this - that is how bad it was," he said. "This is the first day she has got out of bed for a week. I thought 'I am going to lose my mum here'.
"We hope now that it is dealt with, but how many other people are going through this? It should not be happening."
Asked why Ms Patrick had faced such a lengthy wait, the DWP said a "delay" was affecting individuals who were newly-eligible for pensions.
A spokesman added: "We are sorry that some new state pension customers have faced delays receiving payment.
"All those affected have been identified and we have deployed extra resources to process these as a priority. Any claims made today should not be subject to delay."
PAIN says the increase to the women's pension age was introduced with little notice or support and is having a significant impact across the country.
In July, an ombudsman report highlighted failings in the way it was handled by the DWP and found there had been maladministration.
After hearing about Ms Patrick's predicament, PAIN organised a collection for her as they took to a double-decker bus in Norwich earlier this month to highlight their cause.
Mrs Webster, who had spoken candidly in the past about her own struggles, said: "I just could not understand why Lynne's ESA had been stopped if her pension wasn't ready. The DWP could not tell her when she would be getting it.
"PAIN consists of a lovely group of women and we all support each other.
"I am in two pension groups on Facebook and there are so many women out there who are waiting months. This is an ongoing thing."