DWP announces new service as pensioners warned of Post Office card accounts closures

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Hundreds of thousands of Britons use Post Office Card Accounts, but these are soon set to close. However, users will now have more time to change their plans following the closures being pushed back.

Post Office Card Accounts (POca) are to be extended for another year as the Government attempts to safely move existing users over to traditional bank accounts or a new Payment Exception Service.

Details of the closures were originally published by the Government back in September 2021, but the deadline for closing POcas for HMRC payments has since changed.

The Post Office Card Accounts scheme was previously set to end in November 2021.

However, following the disruption caused by the pandemic, the closure date has been extended for 12 months to ensure people have time to make other arrangements.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will write to all customers who currently receive payment into a POca, letting them know the service is ending and encouraging people to open a bank account if they are able to.

Those who cannot do this will instead be moved onto a new Payment Exception Service, which allows them to choose how they receive their payments.

People will get two letters telling them the POca is coming to an end and that if they are unable to open a bank account, their payments will move to the Payment Exception Service.

Work is being undertaken to identify people most at risk in order to provide vulnerable claimants with any additional support they need before the move to the new system takes place.

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The Pensions Minister, Guy Opperman, said:

“Whilst the vast majority of pensions and benefits are paid directly into peoples’ bank accounts, some people prefer to collect their payments over the counter at their local Post Office.

“This extra time means we can support our most vulnerable customers to move to the payment method that will suit them best – even if that means making sure they can still get cash via the Post Office using a card from the new Payment Exception Service.”

Under the new Payment Exception Service, pensioners and benefit claimants will be able to decide how they get their payments.

These methods include the delivery of digital vouchers via:

  • An SMS message
  • An email
  • A unique barcode displayed on a mobile phone

All customers who are moved from POca to the new service will also receive a reusable mag stripe plastic card, which can be used to get their benefits in cash from more than 28,000 PayPoint retail outlets or 11,500 Post Office branches.

The number of active POcas has fallen recently, down from 590,000 to 382,000 between January and July 2021.

HMRC has encouraged their customers to act now so they do not miss any payments once their Post Office card account closes.

More information about the Payment Exception Service and the closure of POcas can be found on the Government website.

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