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Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Universal credit administration  →  Thread

UC claims and Post Office Accounts

Jezy
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Welfare rights team - Colchester Borough Council

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A colleague was told in local DWP partnership meeting last week that from 1st February 2020 any new UC claim where claimant is requesting payment into a post Office Account will be rejected.  Does anyone have any information on this?

Jon (CHDCA)
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Welfare benefits - Craven CAB, North Yorkshire

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DWP have been encouraging claimants to move off Post Office accounts for a long time, and the DWP’s contract with the Post Office ends in Nov 2021:
https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2019-02-01/215600

However, I don’t know what would entitle DWP to outright reject any claims made next month which nominate a PO account?

Jezy
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Yep - worrying.  So I’ve left a message with DWP contact asking for copy of source document on this matter to confirm - or otherwise - this info.

Daphne
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I’ve also put an enquiry in via the stakeholders forum

Daphne
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My contact didn’t know anything about it but did some digging around and found that there is something from 1 February but he is getting further clarification about exactly what it is and should get back to me early next week…

Daphne
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I’ve just had the following powerpoint forwarded to me which does indeed confirm that from 1 feb new claimants will not be able to elect to have their UC award paid into a post office account…

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chacha
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Daphne - 21 January 2020 09:29 AM

I’ve just had the following powerpoint forwarded to me which does indeed confirm that from 1 feb new claimants will not be able to elect to have their UC award paid into a post office account

Jon (CHDCA) - 15 January 2020 03:48 PM

However, I don’t know what would entitle DWP to outright reject any claims made next month which nominate a PO account?

It is quite unbelievable…........... will these now be defective claims or what?

Daphne
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My understanding is that it is an application for a POca that will fail if it is made after 1 Feb - not that a UC claim will fail.

I think slide 4 is saying that if someone claims UC and also tries to open POca they can be offered a payment exception service instead (the HMG PES service - see slide 7 - which is the one that you cash at a paypoint outlet I believe) but encouraged to open a bank account and be made aware that they can withdraw money from bank account at post office.

I think if they have an existing POca when they apply they will be discouraged (see third bullet point on slide 4) from using that but not prevented

[ Edited: 21 Jan 2020 at 11:36 am by Daphne ]
chacha
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Daphne - 21 January 2020 11:33 AM

I think if they have an existing POca when they apply they will be discouraged (see third bullet point on slide 4) from using that but not prevented

Thanks Daphne, let’s hope that’s the case.

Mkfiftyeight
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There was a PQ and answer in October about looking at a replacement for POca and pensioners but it does mention “benefit”, so presumably a replacement for all DWP benefits.

I have not seen an update since the PQ was answered, perhaps it will be something called giros or order books!

Q
Asked by Lord Naseby
Asked on: 15 October 2019
Department for Work and Pensions
State Retirement Pensions: Post Offices
HL121
To ask Her Majesty’s Government how pensioners who do not have a bank account will receive their pension when the contract with the Post Office expires in 2021.
A
Answered by: Baroness Stedman-Scott
Answered on: 21 October 2019
The Department’s contract with Post Office Limited for the Post Office Card Account is due to end November 2021. Plans are underway for a replacement service.
The replacement service will ensure that customers who remain unable to open or manage a standard bank account, are provided with a payment mechanism to receive their payment of pension or benefit from Department, over the counter, in their local area. Commercial arrangements are underway, to invite potential suppliers to tender for the contract, via competitive tender later this year

Daphne
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Yes both the POca and the current payment exceptions service are ending and are due to be replaced - these are my notes from a stakeholder forum last June if it’s any use -

Currently about 6% of claimants (1.1 million) have payments by exception service

Much cheaper to pay by BACS and DWP looking to reduce the numbers done by exception.

Both the current payment exception services ending in 2021 (post office card account – Poca - and HMG payment exception service)

· Post office card account been around since 2003 - can’t receive salary into it, no interest on balance

· HMG payment exception service - customers receive payment via voucher - running since jan 2018

New service will replace both in 2021 - coming in gradually during 2020

DWP assumption is that 300,000 will move to the new service while the remaining 800,000 will move to bank accounts.

Intentions for future service -

· basic service for most vulnerable

· supplier to manage account opening process

· no minimum or maximum encashment value

· face to face access to cash in local areas

· automated migration of c 300,000 individuals

Timetable

· Invitation to tend will go out 18 Oct 2019

· Supplier selection will be finalised 6 March 2020

· Contract awarded 12 June 2020

· Go live 1 September/October 2020

Communications to claimants/pensioners will not provide clarity on new service until after June 2020.

New letter going out to claimants using POca in July 2019 - advising of contract close for POca – letter will not go to individuals over 90 but will go to parents/guardians of under 16s.

Other letters will go out ahead of contract

There is a dedicated contact centre to provide support by telephone if needed - already in place for last 3 years.

Post office also producing leaflets with contact centre on.

Noone will be offered POca from Oct 2019 – those that need payment exception service will be offered HMG voucher service.

Anyone that doesn’t have a bank account by date new service starts in 2021 will be migrated onto the new service.

Andrew Dutton
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We were told at a Liaison Meeting on Friday that DWP had reversed the decision about Feb 1st. Can anyone confirm, even better provide more information?

Andrew Dutton
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Just seen a letter sent to an 80 year old pensioner with an existing POCA - DWP saying that their contract with PO is coming to an end (without saying it’s next year) and the person must get a bank account. The person cannot manage a bank account, according to their social worker..

80 year old in tears, frightened.

This is not the way to manage this change-over. especially when the brand-new payment system is nonexistent as yet.

Timothy Seaside
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I wonder if there is any possibility that somebody is going to find a way to harness this chaos and confusion and use it to relieve some vulnerable people of money? I’m thinking of something along the lines of the UC advance payment scams - with the government helping to scare people into the arms of con-artists?

Andrew Dutton
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Timothy Seaside - 25 February 2020 12:47 PM

I wonder if there is any possibility that somebody is going to find a way to harness this chaos and confusion and use it to relieve some vulnerable people of money? I’m thinking of something along the lines of the UC advance payment scams - with the government helping to scare people into the arms of con-artists?

Yes, I think this is possible, with UC Managed Migration as another possible area of operation.  The government will only hear what it wants to hear, and is quite possibly leaving people behind as easy pickings.

Daphne
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We had confirmation at stakeholders forum today that existing post office accounts will still be accepted on new UC claims although they will not be able to be used after November 2021.

It had been planned that no one would be able to open a new POca from 1 February 2020 but this has now been postponed - date as yet unknown

Daphne
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Dr Coffey announced in her statement yesterday -

‘... the DWP will stop any new benefit and pension claimants from using the Post Office card account from 11 May, as we prepare for the end of the contract. The uptake of accounts in the past year has been exceptionally low, but, in any event, given that we believe the vast majority of people using POCA already have a bank account, the cost of the contract is poor value for taxpayers. Existing customers who currently receive payment through a Post Office card account will see no change and will continue to receive payment into their accounts for the remainder of the contract period. We can use the HMG payment exception service for people who cannot access any bank account.’