|MP warns of post office closures if card account is axed|
The card account was introduced in April 2003 to replace benefit books for pensioners and benefits claimants. At that time, some sub-postmasters noticed a drop of over 50% in cash withdrawals by pensioners and benefit claimants. One sub-post office has seen pension and benefit payments drop from 600 a week then to only 150 payments a week now.
Currently more than 4 million people receive benefits through a card account and the scheme is worth around £1 billion to the post office network. The card account scheme is to be axed by 2010. In future, new claimants and existing customers will have to use a bank or building society instead.
Mr Bacon said: “The card account is simple to use and is ideal for many pensioners and benefit claimants as it does not incur any fees. Also, due to a lack of regular public transport, pensioners and claimants living in rural areas find travelling to a bank or building society difficult and costly”.
Based on the survey people living in South Norfolk villages already have to travel between one and 10 miles to reach a bank or building society. For those who have no transport of their own, collecting benefits and pensions could involve a weekly two to three hour round trip in all weathers.
The National Federation of Sub-postmasters has recently launched a petition calling on the government to reverse its decision to end support for the Post Office Card Account.
Mr Bacon said: “I am forwarding the views of sub-postmasters and
residents of South Norfolk who have written to me about the card account
to the Minister for Work and Pensions. I have already added my name to
the Early Day Motion condemning the abolition of the card account”.
6 March 2006
|© Richard Bacon 2010|