A crucial lifeline has been thrown to post offices in Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and Bridgend thanks to a major Government contract.
The deal, unveiled by Liberal Democrat pensions minister Steve Webb, offers support to disabled people and the elderly while also helping to protect the future of the post office network.
It guarantees until 2022 the future of the Post Office Card Account system which ensures people without a bank account can receive benefits and tax credits.
Welsh Liberal Democrats Assembly Member, Peter Black said:
“This is fantastic news for the local post offices inmy region. Liberal Democrats know how vital local post offices are for elderly and vulnerable people who can’t access their benefits, pension or tax credits any other way.
“I have fought to keep local post offices at the heart of this community and I am delighted this deal means their future is now more secure.”
Liberal Democrat Pensions Minister Steve Webb said:
“I am very pleased we have secured this new contract, which provides good value to the taxpayer, ensures the continuation of a valuable service for pensioners and benefit claimants, and helps safeguard the future of the Post Office network.
“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.”
Liberal Democrat Minister for Postal Affairs Jo Swinson said:
“This announcement builds on the strength of a Post Office network that is reaping the benefits of modernisation. The Government has committed £2bn 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.
“With nearly 12 000 branches, the Post Office network has an unparalleled reach up and down the country. Today’s good news also recognises the important social and economic role that sub-postmasters play in local communities across the UK, bringing important revenue and footfall to Post Offices and helping to protect their long term future.”
Note: 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 2.5m 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.
More information about the Post Office Card Account is available at: http://www.postoffice.co.uk/post-office-card-account