§ Mr. Tom Benyon
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what are his plans for making payments of social security benefits direct into banking accounts.
§ Mr. Newton
We still intend to begin offering the option of payment direct into a bank account by automated credit transfer from October 1982. New claimants to retirement pension, widow's pension and widowed mother's allowance will be able to exercise the option from that date, and it will be gradually excluded to existing claimants of these benefits over about 18 months. Plans to extend the option further to recipients of child benefit have been delayed by operational difficulties, but we hope to begin this extension in early 1983. Other extensions will follow later. In all cases payment by ACT will be entirely voluntary. Beneficiaries who do not wish to change need do nothing, and their existing method of payment will continue.