Benefit recipients can continue to use their Post Office accounts to receive payments – despite a departmental letter which appears to suggest otherwise.
Confusion had arisen that those getting money paid into the Post Office had to opt for an alternative account instead.
But Newry and Armagh MLA Justin McNulty has advised that this is not the case and the letter is misleading.
He said: “In recent months many benefit recipients have received a letter expecting them to change from using their usual Post Office card account to a bank, building society or credit union account.
“Yes, these letters are genuine however they are extremely misleading.
“We have been advised that customers who use this service can continue to lift their benefit payments at the Post Office using their POCA.
“Unfortunately due to the wording of this letter many have already made the change. If you have already received a letter or receive one in the future, you must ring the number provided and state that you wish to keep using your Post Office account.
“It is disappointing that many felt forced into this change when it wasn’t necessary.
“It was only announced in December 2014 that the government contract had been renewed to secure the future of Post Office card account until at least November 2021.’
“Post Offices, especially in many rural areas, are the last public service left and any attempt to strip this service from them must be rejected. It is convenient for and trusted by those who use them.
“This service is not only important to Post Office branch survival, it is important to the elderly and vulnerable people who use it to collect their benefit payments every week.”