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Post Office Closures (Cheshire)

Volume 480: debated on Monday 6 October 2008

The Petition of Mrs Shelagh Beswick, Manager, Wincham Post Office, Mr Alastair Carmichael, Sub Post Master, Barnton Post Office, and others of like disposition,

Declares that they and others care deeply about their local Post Office, where they wish to be able to continue to use their Post Office Card Account, as they are unable to easily visit the bank in their nearest town.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform to ensure that POCA2 remains a Post Office product.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Mr. George Osborne, Official Report, 17 July 2008; Vol. 479, c. 15P .] [P000248]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, received 6 August 2008:

The current Post Office card account contract ends in March 2010, as always planned, and the Government has decided that there will be a new service after 2010. We received clear legal advice that we were required to tender competitively for this product, in order to ensure that best value for money for the taxpayer is achieved.

That process is now well under way and an announcement on the successful bidder will be made in accordance with appropriate procurement rules once a decision has been reached.

The successor to the Post Office card account will be accessible at personal teller outlets throughout the UK, with widespread coverage to ensure that it will be available in rural areas as well as urban communities.

The Government still believes that being paid into a bank or building society account is the best option for the vast majority of our customers, and around three in four of our customers are paid this way. It gives them more choice about where and when they get their money, enables them to make savings on some bills by paying by direct debit and get interest on balances on their accounts.

However, the Government remains committed to allowing people to access their pension and benefit in cash at the post office if they choose to do so, and there are around 25 accounts which make that possible thereby generating income for Post Office Ltd and sub-postmasters.

Post Offices play an important social and economic role in the communities they serve and we are determined to maintain a national Post Office network allowing people to have reasonable access across the whole country. This is why we invested £2 billion between 1999 and 2006 to support the network and are providing a further £1.7 billion up to 2011 to maintain a national network and put it on a stable footing. Funding includes a continued annual subsidy of up to £150 million until at least 2011 with an expectation of a continued need for subsidy beyond this.