asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether, before announcing the recent successive changes in methods of social security payment, they made any assessments of the potential effects of such changes on the post offices network and of the cost to the public purse in support of post offices; and whether they undertook any surveysof the attitude of pensioners towards theproposed changes in methods of social security payment.[HL7491]
Since May 1999 the Government's policy has consistently been that benefits and pensions should be paid into bank accounts wherever possible. In research undertaken in September 2004 more than90 per cent of pensioners said that they were happy having their pension paid into an account.
The existing Post Office card account contract ends in March 2010 as we have always made clear. The full range of accounts which will be available beyond then is not yet settled—discussions between the Government and Post Office Ltd are continuing.
Around 25 bank accounts can also be used at the post office generating income and other business for the sub-postmaster. There are around 20 million people who could access their bank account at a post office, but only around 10 per cent (2 million) per week actually do so. DWP will be happy to work with the Post Office to try to increase this number, which will give post office branches new income. Post Office Ltd has already introduced one new savings account and is developing other savings and banking products.