HC Deb 10 March 2003 vol 401 cc84-5W
Mr. Willetts

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of benefit claimants he expects to be unable to receive their benefits into a bank or building society account, including a Post Office card account; what types of people he expects to fall into this category; and when the new arrangements for these people are likely to be announced. [100796]

Malcolm Wicks

Around 85 per cent. of our customers currently have access to an account suitable for Direct Payment. For those customers who wish to open a new account information on all of the options available is given in mailings being sent to benefit and pension customers.

There is now a wide range of easy to operate bank and building society accounts available. The availability of these accounts and the Post Office card account will mean that there should be only a small number of people who cannot open a suitable account. However, we have always recognised that there will be a small group of people who we cannot pay directly into an account and they will continue to be paid in the same way they are now until an alternate payment method is available. Work is in progress to develop a solution to make these payments. Once this work is complete we will announce details.