A stunned pensioner, aged 78, has received a tax bill of more than £4.7bn from HM Revenue & Customs.

Doug Yeomans, from Shardlow, Derbyshire, said that he received a letter from HMRC demanding that he pay them an astronomical £950m a month for the next five months until the £4,742,354,255 debt is paid off.

The former builder told the Derby Telegraph: "I opened the letter and saw the amount and thought to myself, 'I'd better start cutting down on the food bill then'.

"They must think I'm a footballer or something, but I don't even think that Russian bloke [Roman Abramovich] who owns Chelsea could afford that amount.

"I think I can probably just about afford £255, but I think the rest might be pushing it a bit.

"I live off a state pension, topped up with what I put aside as a pension after a lifetime of working in the building trade.

"When I phoned the customs people up to tell them about the tax demand the girl on the other end of the phone said to me 'yes, I think in this case there might have been an error.'"

An HMRC spokesperson said: "We are very sorry about our error. We don't talk about individual cases but when we make mistakes we aim to put them right fast and apologise."