This is an article for the South Wales Evening Post and the Glamorgan Gazette
I was pleased to note that a crucial lifeline has been thrown to post offices in Swansea, Bridgend and Neath Port Talbot thanks to a Government contract unveiled by Liberal Democrat pensions’ minister, Steve Webb last month.
It guarantees the future of the Post Office Card Account system until 2022, which ensures people without a bank account can receive benefits and tax credits. It also helps to protect the future of the post office network.
The Post Office Card Account was introduced in 2003 as part of the phasing out of order books. The previous contract was due to expire in March 2015, which would have led to the withdrawal of the service.
There are approximately 2.5 million active Post Office Card Account users, which represents around 15 per cent of all benefit claimants and pensioners. Over half of account users are pensioners and many rely on someone else to collect their payments for them.
This is good news for the local post offices inour area. Liberal Democrats know how vital local post offices are for elderly and vulnerable people who cannot access their benefits, pension or tax credits any other way.
Although most people have a bank account, there are certain groups for whom this is not viable and, for them, the Post Office Card Account provides an important lifeline.
The Government has abandoned the Post Office closure programme of their predecessors and committed £2 billion to protect and modernise the network, to ensure that the millions of customers using the Post Office every week continue to be able to access key services.
In this way they are able to ensure that Post Offices are more sustainable for the future and continue to provide services to local communities.