§ 13. Sir John Hannam
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to enable pensioners to choose to have their benefits paid through the Post Office.
§ Mr. Lilley
We are committed to giving pensioners the choice of payment directly into their bank or building society by automated credit transfer or at the post office. For pensioners and others who do not want to be paid in this way, we are planning significant improvements in the delivery of benefits at post offices. The post office network will be automated, and order books and girocheques replaced with a benefit payment card.
Automation will virtually eliminate instrument of payment fraud, produce administrative savings for the Department, and provide a more responsive service to our customers, as well as providing Post Office Counters Ltd. the opportunity to automate other counter business. We are looking to the private sector to suggest how the system might best achieve these objectives, and to design, build, finance and operate the system under a contract that would provide payment based on transaction volumes. I was able to announce on 9 December Official Report, column 385, the names of five companies, some of which lead consortia, which have been invited to further develop their solutions.
§ 26. Mr. Harry Greenway
To ask' the Secretary of State for Social Security what forms of payment pensioners will be eligible to opt for when having their benefits paid through the Post Office; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Arbuthnot
Pensioners will continue to be able to choose to be paid through the post office by using either automated credit transfer into girobank or National Savings bank accounts, or order books.81W
In future, there will be major changes for those who do not choose ACT. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has announced plans to automate the payment of benefits at post offices. Order books will eventually be replaced by a benefit payment card which will allow access to information held electronically. People paid by ACT will not be affected.