§ Mr. Peter Duncan
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the annual saving in handling costs is anticipated when benefits payments are changed to automated credit transfer. 
§ Malcolm Wicks
[holding answer 5 February 2002]: The movement to payment direct into bank and building society accounts assures a safe, convenient, more modern and efficient way of paying benefits and pensions and will bring very substantial savings. Against this, we will incur some additional costs which cannot yet be quantified, including payments to Post Office Ltd. which will depend 414W on the outcome of the current contract negotiations between the Government and the Post Office, and on the number of Post Office Card Accounts.