We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Post Office Closures

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:38 pm on 15th May 2002.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Vincent Cable Vincent Cable Shadow Spokesperson (Trade and Industry), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Trade and Industry) 3:38 pm, 15th May 2002

It does. I have heard that phrase, which is beginning to percolate through the post office network. The scripts being prepared for customers, which some people have seen, make it clear that unless there are strongly extenuating circumstances, people will be expected to move to a banking service. The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right about that.

The policy affects the people to whom I referred, but the effects would be even greater for the remaining 30 per cent: people who really need the post office. They do not have bank accounts, or they may have a savings account that they do not use for cash transactions. They are often extremely old and frail and are, in the words of the DWP report, "difficult to move".

The DWP study suggests that the number of people in that category is about 5 million. They cannot realistically be expected to move over to a banking system. The concept of the post office card account—a simple alternative—was developed with such people in mind. However, the problem is that the Government have set a target of 3 million such accounts to serve about 5 million people. That may answer the hon. Gentleman's intervention about active management.

What will happen to the 2 million people who want to continue using the post office much as they have always done and who do not want to use banks? How will they cope in the new environment? I think that "active management" means that many of those people will be steered or encouraged to open a bank account, even if it is only the PAT 14, the basic account developed by the banks in recent years.