Patsy McGlone MLA for Mid Ulster

 
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Patsy McGlone 18th December 2017

McGlone: Concern at Department for Communities Continued Campaign against Post Office Accounts

SDLP MLA for Mid Ulster, Patsy McGlone, has expressed concern after it emerged that the Department for Communities was pressurising pensioners to switch to using bank accounts to receive their pensions instead of their existing Post Office account.

Mr McGlone said, "I was concerned to learn from many constituents that they, or people they knew, were receiving letters from the Department for Communities trying to persuade them to switch to using bank accounts to receive their pensions instead of their existing Post Office account.

“For many of them, their Post Office account is their preferred method of receiving their pensions and, in rural communities, visiting their local Post Office is an important way of keeping in touch with their neighbours. They were worried at the thought that, if they did not change to a bank account, they would not be able to access their pension payments.

“At a time when banks are closing large numbers of local branches, it seems strange that a government department is seeking to undermine one of the few remaining organisations prepared to keep open rural services.

“At the start of this year I sought, and secured, confirmation from the Department that a similar campaign on benefit payments was not mandatory, and that it was entirely up to the individual concerned how they received their payments.

“Yet the letters currently being sent out to pensioners makes no mention of this choice.

“I would urge anyone receiving these letters to make a careful and informed decision about what way they prefer to receive their pensions. They should not feel under any pressure to change to a bank account if they do not want to.

“I will be asking the Department to review the wording of any future letters being sent out to pensioners to more accurately reflect all the options available to them.”

 

ENDS