Belfast Telegraph

£700k of Premium Bonds prizes unclaimed in Northern Ireland

More than £700,000 of Premium Bonds prizes remain unclaimed in Northern Ireland
More than £700,000 of Premium Bonds prizes remain unclaimed in Northern Ireland

By Mark Bain

More than £700,000 of Premium Bonds prizes remain unclaimed in Northern Ireland.

Some of the unclaimed prizes are more than half a century old, with the oldest winning bond number, worth £25, dating back to December 1962.

In today's money that prize would be valued at £550.

Several others worth the same amount have been lying unclaimed by local savers since the early 1960s.

In total, more than 19,000 prizes are still due to savers in Northern Ireland, worth up to £1,000 each - the oldest of the £1,000 winners dating back to February 1978.

The details have been released by National Savings and Investments as the Premium Bonds random number generator, Ernie 4, is being decommissioned and replaced after 15 years of service.

The first draw on June 1, 1957, took 30 hours to complete using a machine designed by the team behind the Second World War code breaker, Colossus.

Randomly generated prizes are given out to premium bond investors, who get monthly tax-free prizes instead of interest or dividends.

Across the UK £60m in prizes remain unclaimed, and there is no time limit on them, with each unclaimed prize held until the rightful winner can be traced.

Jill Waters, National Savings and Investments retail director, said there were various reasons why prizes are not claimed.

"Prizes often become unclaimed as a result of people moving house or forgetting that bonds have been bought for them as a child, or executors are unaware the bonds are held when someone dies," she said.

She encouraged people to manage their bonds online to avoid missing out on a potential windfall "as they can be paid directly into your bank account or they can be reinvested into your Premium Bonds account".

"Ernie 4 paid out 322m prizes over the course of its career, including over three million in prizes to Northern Ireland since its launch in 2004, worth over £124m," she said.

Four £1m jackpot prizes have been delivered to Northern Ireland since 2004.

The popularity of Premium Bonds has soared so much that more than 78bn bonds are now eligible to win any of the three million prizes worth more than £90m on offer each month.

Today, just 12 minutes is needed to select all the winners.

"Over 21,000 Premium Bonds holders in Northern Ireland now receive their prizes directly to their bank accounts, and 30,000 have opted to have their prizes auto-reinvested into their Premium Bonds account, increasing their chances of winning further prizes," said Ms Waters.

The oldest unclaimed prize of £25 has been waiting for a Premium Bond holder in Yorkshire to come forward since November 1957.

Four more recent prizes of £100,000 haven't been claimed, the earliest in London from 2007. There are five more prizes waiting for claim valued at £50,000 in the UK.

A full list of winning Premium Bond numbers is available at nsandi.com

Belfast Telegraph

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