Post Office Closures and Post Office Card Accounts

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2006 Retired Members' Conference
22 September 2006

Conference notes that Ministers have announced that the Department for Work and Pensions will not extend the contract for the Post Office card account beyond 2010 despite the fact that 2.3 million pensioners use the card as a way of collecting their state pension.

When the Government ended the use of pension books in 2003, and offered payment at Post Offices by means of the Post Office Card Account, it was not realised that this was a transitional phase lasting until 2010. Many pensioners are now familiar with this method of payment of their state pension and any change which will require them to have a bank or building society account will bring additional problems to an aging population. It could also see a further decline in the number of Post Offices particularly in rural areas where no banks or building society offices exist. Nearly 800 publicly owned post offices have been shut or sold off in the last 10 years.

The loss of the Post Office card account and the withdrawal of the issuing of TV licences by the Post Office will affect older people as they may have to travel miles to the nearest supplier. That will be an added cost in time and travel expense and will be a great inconvenience to many pensioners.

Conference believes that the Post Office provides a vital service to local communities in both urban and rural areas. Those wishing to collect their state pension at their local post office should remain able to do so in line with the Prime Minister’s statement in the House of Commons on April 12th 2004, when he said: ‘Let me make one thing perfectly clear, no one will be prevented from continuing to receive benefits in cash, at the post office, if he or she wants to, and not only monthly, but weekly.’

Conference further notes that independent research conducted on behalf of the industry watchdog, Postwatch, has proved that Crown post offices provide a significantly better service to the public than those that have been franchised (privatised).

Therefore, Conference calls on the National Retired Members’ Committee to:

1)work with the National Executive Council and appropriate organisations, including the Labour Link, to seek a reversal of the Government’s policy of stopping the Post Office Card Account and post office closures

2)pursue all avenues to achieve the safeguarding of the Post Office Card Account as a permanent method of obtaining the state pension;

3)circulate to retired members details of the Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) campaign to continue the Post Office Card Account.

4)publicise the fact that state pensions can still be paid by weekly giro