The Department for Communities is encouraging customers who receive their benefits and/or pensions into a Post Office card account (POca) to take action as the end of the POca contract approaches.
The new future method of payment aims to pay pension and benefits to customers through new innovative, secure and efficient methods of payment.
Customers are encouraged to open a mainstream account such as a bank, building society or similar account as soon as possible. Payment to a mainstream account is the preferred method of payment as it is considered to be the most efficient, secure and reliable method of payment.
Customers who cannot open or manage a mainstream account can be paid into the bank account of a trusted friend or family member or will be offered to migrate to the new Payment Exception Service, which will primarily use the Paypoint and Post Office network to cash vouchers. This will allow customers to access funds across a wider spectrum of locations and venues going forward.
A Department for Communities spokesperson said: “The majority of banks’ personal customers are now able to withdraw or deposit cash and cheques and make balance enquiries at Post Office counters, which means that switching payments to a mainstream account need not change how customers collect their monies at their local post office.
“Both the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Department for Communities are committed to ensuring that as many customers as possible are supported to move to a mainstream account prior to the ending of the contract. Those customers who do not open a mainstream account will be automatically migrated to the new Payment Exception Service to ensure future continuity of benefit and pension payments.”
The Department recognises that some customers may have difficulty with changing their payment method and need help to choose an account that is right for their circumstances. Support is available via:
• A dedicated free telephone service (0800 085 7133) which has been set up within DWP and offers POca users the opportunity to ask questions and seek support in choosing an account that meets their needs; or
• Advice NI (0800 915 4604 or www.adviceni.net/money-talks) or Money Advice Service on (0800 138 7777 or www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk), for free independent advice.
Further information on the payment of benefits and pensions can be found at https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/how-benefits-and-pensions-are-paid