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Post Office Card Accounts

Volume 405: debated on Tuesday 20 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what limit there is on the amount of money that can be held in a Post Office card account; whether there is a requirement to withdraw funds from a Post Office card account; whether interest is payable on balances in Post Office card accounts, and in what circumstances; and if he will make a statement. [114043]

[holding answer 19 May 2003]: There is no limit on the amount of money that can be held in a Post Office card account, the minimum balance is £0 (zero pounds and zero pence). There is no requirement on customers to withdraw funds from their account nor do the accounts attract interest.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what limit or other restriction there is on the amount of money which may be withdrawn from a Post Office card account by an agent of the account holder; and if he will make a statement. [114045]

[holding answer 19 May 2003]: A Third Party, who has been formally authorised to have access to the Account Holder's Post Office card account will be able to withdraw all, or part of the Account Holder's Post Office card account monies.The minimum withdrawal amount is 1p (one penny). The maximum withdrawal amount is limited to the monies available in the account. However, there is a daily limit on withdrawals of £600.00 (six hundred pounds). Withdrawals greater than £600 may be subject to up to three working days notice.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Mr. Burstow) of 1 April 2003, Official Report, column 607W, on post office card accounts, if he will make a statement on the circumstances in which an alternative method of payment to replace the exception scheme will be put in place (a) nationally and (b) in individual cases; and whether (i) his Department and (ii) individual customers may require the alternative method to be used; [114189](2) pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Mr. Burstow) of 1 April 2003,

Official Report, column 606W, on Post Office card accounts, what the nature is of the alternative method of payment referred to; what assessment he has made of when it will be required; and if he will make a statement. [113596]

[holding answer 19 May 2003]: We have always recognised that there will be a small group of people who we cannot pay directly into an account. An alternative method will be developed to pay this group. The alternative arrangements do not need to be available for some time, as customers for whom the new arrangements are not suitable will, for the present, be able to keep their order book. Order books are being phased out and will no longer be available after 2005.We are currently developing an alternative payment method to pay customers who are unable to open or manage an account.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Mr. Burstow) of 1 April 2003, Official Report, column 607W, on Post Office card accounts, what procedure will be adopted for an individual customer to require that his benefit is paid by an alternative method of payment other than direct payment; and if he will make a statement. [114190]

[holding answer 19 May 2003]: The Government's information campaign, to support the move to Direct Payment, provides customers with factual information on the banking options available to them, including information on the Post Office card account. We will write directly to all customers affected by the change to provide them with the information they need to decide which option is best for them. The information is presented in a way that enables customers to decide which option is best for their individual circumstances.There is no question of people not being able to get their money. Those customers who feel that the account options available do not meet their particular needs should contact the Customer Conversion Centre on the freephone number provided to discuss their needs and circumstances.Where customers genuinely are unable to manage an account they will be advised that, in the short term, they can retain their order book. However, order books are being phased out and will no longer be available after 2005.We are currently developing an alternative payment method to pay the small number of customers who are unable to open or manage an account.