The future viability of many Post Offices will be thrown into doubt if the Card Account contract is not renewed
Jo Swinson MP has accused the Government of abandoning the Post Office and users of its Card Account scheme.
The Department for Work and Pensions has refused to confirm that the contract for the Card Account scheme will be renewed with the Post Office when it expires in 2010.
Speaking in a Westminster Hall debate on Post Office Card Accounts yesterday, Jo warned that many Post Offices would not survive the closure of the scheme.
After the debate, Jo commented:
“If the Post Office Card Account is abandoned, there will be a severe impact on the viability of many Post Offices.
“In 2003, Malcolm Wicks, then Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, stated that if Card Accounts were not introduced, “the Post Office network would be bled dry by people increasingly choosing to have their benefit or pension paid into a bank or building society”.
“Now it seems that this is exactly the course of action the government wants to follow. It is estimated that of the 1,500 Post Offices in Scotland, two-thirds will not be viable after the Card Account scheme expires.
“The Card Accounts have been more popular than expected, with 4.5 million people, many of them elderly, using them. They offer a ‘no frills’ service ideal for vulnerable people who are inexperienced at managing money. These are the people that will be hit hardest by this decision.
“One of the arguments in favour of switching to an account system operated by banks is that people will have greater access to money via cash machines. The fact is, many of these cash machines will charge for withdrawals, so a pensioner receiving £150 per week may end up paying up to 1% of his or her pension just for access to cash.