Thérèse Coffey addresses state pension underpayments
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State pension income, Universal Credit and other benefits can be received through POca and thousands of recipients utilise the unique card. However, the Government detailed from November 2021, both DWP and HMRC will stop making payments into these accounts.
Yesterday, the DWP issued a warning on this.
It said: “Post Office card accounts are closing. If you have your benefits or pension paid into one of these, contact us and we can help with the next steps.
“Our phone lines are open 8:30am to 4pm, Monday to Friday.”
According to the Money Advice Service (which has now been incorporated into “MoneyHelper”) the DWP will be sending out letters to affected holders over the coming months.
The Money Advice Service explained holders will need to close their accounts but “there’s no need to panic as you have time.”
To close a POca, holders will need to complete an account closure form (P6703) available at local Post Offices or through calling the POca helpline on 03457 22 33 44.
This form will need to be completed and taken to a Post Office branch where the details will be checked and it will be forwarded for processing.
The account closure process can take up to 10 working days.
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As POcas are closed, people will have three options to receive pensions and benefits payments in the future, which includes:
- Use an existing account you have with a bank, building society or credit union
- Open an account with a bank, building society or credit union
- Payment Exceptions Service
The Post Office also notes it is important people do not leave any money in their POca as the deadline approaches.
The Government alerted benefit claimants to these changes over a year ago, with Thérèse Coffey, the Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions, confirming in early 2020 that no new benefit claimants would be able to utilise POca going forward.
As Ms Coffey explained at the time: “I can inform the House that the DWP will stop any new benefit and pension claimants from using the Post Office Card Account from May 11, as we prepare for the end of this contract.
“Uptake of accounts in the last year has been exceptionally low, but in any event, given that the vast majority of people using POCA we believe already have a bank account, the cost of the contract is poor value for taxpayers.
“Current customers who receive payment through a Post Office card account will see no change and will continue to receive payment into their accounts for the remainder of the contract period.
“We can use the HMG Payment Exception Service for people who cannot access any bank account.”
The DWP notes benefits are usually paid straight into bank, building or credit union accounts and where payment dates fall on a weekend or bank holiday, claimants will usually be paid on the first working day before.
This will impact claimants differently as state benefits can be paid on a variety of schedules.
Most however will be paid once every two or four weeks.
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