SDLP Social Justice Spokesperson Mark H Durkan has welcomed ‘long awaited’ clarity from the Department for Communities (DfC) on Post Office accounts and the establishment of a Payment Exception Service.
The Department’s contract with the Post Office is due to end in November 2021 and will impact some 51,000 customers across the North. Mr Durkan has persistently appealed to Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey to make the transition process as simple as possible.
The Foyle MLA commented:
“The cancellation of the contract between the Department for Communities and the Post Office has been in the pipeline for quite a while but is due to come to an end November 2021.
“It’s fair to say that the decision has been a source of anxiety for many pensioners who use this simple and trusted method to access their benefits and pensions. Each letter received from the DfC, rather than allay worries surrounding this changeover, has only served to exacerbate confusion. I have requested for the best part of two years, for a simpler process for those who did not wish to switch to a mainstream account. Minister Hargey eventually announced the development of a Payment Exception Service.
“The Payment Exception Service will 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.
“I’m glad that action has finally been taken by the Department, in line with their aim for greater financial inclusion, to support many vulnerable people to migrate over.
“Support is now available to answer any queries via a dedicated free telephone service on 0800 085 7133. 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."