HC Deb 20 May 2002 vol 386 c48W
Mr. Todd

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on progress in establishing the Universal bank. [54023]

Mr. Alexander

The Department of Work and Pensions, together with the Inland Revenue and the Northern Ireland Social Security Agency, have agreed contractual terms with Post Office Ltd. for the provision of the Card Account and are working on implementation. A lot of detailed work is being carried out on implementing universal banking services and the plan remains to deliver in advance of the migration of benefit payment to ACT from 2003.

Mr. Webb

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when and for what reasons the Universal bank has been renamed the New Direct bank; whether all benefit claimants will have access to the New Direct bank; when she expects the New Direct bank to be established; if she will list the(a) banks and (b) building societies that have agreed to deliver the New Direct bank services; and with which company a contract has been signed for the benefit payment card account. [54510]

Mr. Alexander

The Government's plan for universal banking services continues to be based on two key elements: post office access to the banks own basic bank accounts (which have a variety of operating brand names); and a simple Card Account which will allow benefits claimants without bank accounts to access their benefits in cash at post offices using a Post Office account instead of an order book or giro. We have no plans to rebrand any of this as "the New Direct bank".

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