To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent assessment he has made of the potential merits of introducing a secure alternative to the Post Office Card Account (POca) card for those without a bank account, which offers face-to-face support for those requiring assistance.
8 September 2021
We recognise that not all of our customers are able to open and operate standard accounts, which is why we offer an alternative for those customers.
The Post Office card account (POca) contract is due to end and the Department plans to start moving customers to the replacement Payment Exception Service (PES) during the coming months.
The new PES is similar to Her Majesty’s Government Payment Exception Service (HMG PES) which has been in place since 2018 and is due to end in September 2021. The HMG PES service has successfully served our most vulnerable customers by the issue of vouchers which are uploaded to a card or sent electronically via SMS or email.
The replacement PES has also been designed for customers who cannot open or manage a basic bank or standard account. We have ensured that the new service enables users to continue to obtain cash payments in their local area (including suburban and rural locations) following the end of the Post Office card account contract.
Customers identified as at risk of harm will receive additional support before being migrated to the new service. This includes outbound calls to make contact with the customer or their nominated representative and referral to the DWP visiting service to make face-to-face contact where a call is unsuccessful or identifies that a visit is required. Post migration we will track the encashment of vouchers by all customers to ensure that they are accessing the payments they receive at the level we would expect. This post migration support is significantly stronger than currently exists for POca.