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Government defends upcoming benefits reforms

Upcoming government benefits reforms might negatively affect pensioners' personal finances, the Times reports.The new legislation, which will come into effect from October, reduces the amount of time in which pensioners can claim backdated council tax and housing benefits, along with pension credits, from 12 months to three.This is despite 110,000 over-65s claiming from beyond this deadline in 2007.For its part, the government says that the reforms will help to streamline the benefits claims process - cutting down on the £5 billion a year currently missed out on by pensioners who fail to submit applications.All three benefits will be applied for in a single phone call, with application forms also being phased out.Mike O'Brien, the pensions minister, said: "Many pensioners are still not claiming benefits they may be entitled to, which is why we are making every effort to urge pensioners who may be eligible to claim and making the process as easy as possible."

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