HC Deb 07 March 2003 vol 400 cc1255-6W
Mr. Willetts

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for what reason people must obtain a personal invitation document before requesting a Post Office card account application form; and why the application form is not sent out alongside the personal invitation document. [100792]

Malcolm Wicks

The Post Office card account is only available to benefit, state pension and tax credit recipients. A Personal Invitation Document from one of the Paying Departments is the means by which the Post Office can identify such people and will be used by the Post Office as one form of identification for opening an account.

The Post Office card account is only one of three options available to customers wishing to access their money at the Post Office. The other options are a basic bank account or certain standard accounts.

The Post Office card account is a service provided by Post Office Limited and not the Government. It is, therefore, the role of the Post Office, like any other account provider, to issue application forms for its own products.

Mr. Webb

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to his answer of 10 February,Official Report column 522W, on the Direct Credit Scheme (Pensions)what methods of payment will be available under the exceptions service. [98115]

Malcolm Wicks

Progress is being made towards an alternative method for paying those customers who we are unable to pay by Direct Payment. This is expected to be available from October 2004. The options for this service are still being developed and it will be available at a range of outlets which will include Post Office branches.

Mr. McLoughlin

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many pensioners in Derbyshire have migrated from over-the-counter benefit payments to direct bank transfers. [98892]

Malcolm Wicks

The number of pensioners in Derbyshire that have migrated from payments collectable over the counter at post offices to payment into a bank or building society account is 293 as at 28 December 2002 compared with the same records from data available 4 weeks earlier.

Some customers who are paid direct into an account can also collect their benefit in cash at post offices through network banking arrangements at the Post Office. There is no data available on the number of benefit claims collected in this way.

Mr. Willetts

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether benefit claimants who have agreed to have their benefits paid direct into a bank account under the payment modernisation programme are allowed to change their mind and apply for a Post Office Card Account. [96599]

Malcolm Wicks

Customers will be provided with information to help them make an informed choice as to the type of account, most suited to their needs. Some customers may subsequently decide that their needs have changed and choose another type of account, including a Post Office card account.