‘DWP Review proposals to stop benefit payments disgraceful’ – Ritchie

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Wednesday, March 12th, 2014
Speaking after information appeared from a leaked Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) review document that the Department intends to stop paying benefits into Post Office card accounts the MP for South Down Margaret Ritchie said it was ‘disgraceful’. “This proposal, to stop paying benefits into Post Office card accounts, coming from a leaked internal DWP review is out of touch and displays the arrogance of the current Government when it comes to the needs of everyday citizens, particularly the old and the vulnerable within our society,” she told Newry Times. “We know that these Post Office basic cash accounts are used by nearly 3 million people, including 1.5 million pensioners. “Many of those with Post Office Accounts do not have bank accounts and accessing their money through the Post Office is a service they rely upon for many reasons including accessibility and support from their local community post office, which would not be available to the same extent from larger banking branches. The SDLP MP continued, “During my time as Minister for Social Development I could see there was a very strong case for Post Office Accounts and the service they provided to many in our society, particularly the most vulnerable. “I ensure at that time that Post Office card accounts were continued as a means of paying benefits and obtained permission from DWP to continue with Post Office card accounts. I will be raising matter with our current Minister for Social Development calling for assurances from him that no similar proposals will be considered here in Northern Ireland. “A strong case for the retention of Post Office accounts and their value to the community has already been made here and our rural geography places us in a position where we must ensure that access to services can be largely dependent on the post office network. Ritchie added, “In addition to this the closure of many rural banking branches in 2013 strengthens the case for Post Office accounts being a means of access benefit payments.”
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