THE Government's scheme to scrap pension books for elderly people is to be investigated by officials in North Yorkshire.

Shelagh Marshall, the county council's older people 's champion, claims too many problems have come to light as a result of the Government's money-saving proposals.

Now a full investigation into the process involved in the changeover is being carried out by the authority's care and independence overview and scrutiny committee.

Coun Marshall said: "I want the scrutiny committee to take a close look at this problem as it has developed, listen to what people have to say and come up with some solutions which will work.

"After all, we are dealing with some of the most vulnerable members of our communities who have been put in a very difficult position through the Government's plans."

The changeover began in April last year and since then Coun Marshall has been asking the Post Office and Government to pay attention to the difficulties that people have been experiencing when changing from pension book to bank or post office.

Coun Marshall said: "One of the underlying problems seems to be that all the information and the choices which are available are not fully explained in government literature.

"The most common relate to the need to telephone if you want a post office card account, and the form itself.

"Boxes need to be filled in and the form is not accepted if all the letters aren't within the boxes. If someone has an unsteady hand because of age or illness then it makes it extremely difficult."

She said: "It took the Government more than a year to announce that those people who keep their pension book until March next year will then be paid by Girocheque, weekly. This cheque will have all the flexibility for cashing that pension books have now, but the Government seems reluctant to share this information."

It costs the Government £1.47 to pay money through a Girocheque compared to 1p to pay it into a bank account.

"For many elderly people - who rely solely on the money collected from their local post office, then many banks or building societies are inaccessible," said Coun Marshall.