Ruffley challenges Government Minister over survival of local Post Offices and is backed by Stowupland Sub-postmaster

Monday, 15 May, 2006

David Ruffley MP, the Shadow Minister for Welfare Reform, has challenged the Government in the House of Commons on changes to the way benefits are paid, which could have a huge negative impact on local Post Offices in Bury St Edmunds, Stowmarket and surrounding villages.

David said:

'The Post Office Card Account was introduced in 2003 as a concession to the Government's decision to end pension books. The Government claim that the accounts were always intended to be a transitional phase before the complete introduction of direct payment into bank accounts in 2010. However, it was not made clear either to Members of Parliament or to those people who took up a Post Office Card Account that it was to be only transitional.

'Ditching the Post Office card account is causing great concern to many vulnerable people, especially in the absence of a clear announcement of what the successor account will be. According to the managing director of the Post Office, the revenue from the Post Office card account amounts to £200 million a year, which goes into a network that is desperately striving to keep sub-post offices open.

'Local Subpostmasters, such as Sally Reeves at Stowupland Post Office, have confirmed to me how devastating a blow this could be for their businesses. That is why I will continue to question Government Ministers about what will replace the Card Account if it is to be removed.

'Confusion still remains over this issue, which I know will be causing concern to many people, particularly the elderly and the vulnerable.

We have called for an urgent review of this decision and for clarification from the Government on what will happen next.'