This is a CWU Press Release
Today, in the House of Commons, James Purnell Secretary of State for the department of work and pensions (DWP), announced that the Post Office would retain the Post Office Card Account (POCA).
Retaining this account which provides the opportunity for 4.3 million people to claim benefits directly through the Post Office, directly supports the sustainability of the Post Office network. It was claimed that losing the account would mean the loss of a further 3,000 post offices.
The secretary of state announced that the tender process for the account had been halted and the Post office contract to provide these services renewed until 2015, with an option for extension beyond that date.
The government announcement is a victory for the lengthy campaign, led by the CWU and supported by MPs, the Federation of sub-postmasters and post office users around the country.
Billy Hayes, CWU general secretary welcomed the news, saying “we’re pleased that following months of extensive campaigning and lobbying, the govt has listened and made the right decision”.
The news comes shortly after the leaked news that the BERR secretary of state Peter Mandelson said that the Post Office can be the “provider of a broader range of financial services”. During todays announcement, James Purnell, answering a direct question in teh HOuse of Commons re-affirmed this intention.
“With these initiatives, The Post Office can again become a great British success story” added Billy Hayes.
The union’s full press release, in response to the announcement is below.
CWU welcomes POCA ‘victory for common sense’
CWU general secretary Billy Hayes said that today’s confirmation that the Post Office is to retain the contract for the Post Office Card Account (POCA) represents “a victory for common sense”.
“We’re pleased that, following months of extensive campaigning and lobbying by our union, the Federation of Sub Postmasters, Members of Parliament, customers and all those who care about the Post Office right across the UK, the government has listened and made the right decision. James Purnell has shown good judgement on this matter,” said Billy.
“We hope that today’s decision, following reports earlier this week that Business Secretary Peter Mandelson believes that the Post Office can ‘rebuild itself into a widely accessible, trusted provider of a broader range of financial services’, represents a further indication that the government is now willing to adopt a more positive approach towards the future of this vital public service.”
As well as campaigning for the retention of the POCA contract, the CWU has also been urging the government to use the full potential of the Post Office to create a new Post Office People’s Bank.
Billy explained: “With deposits in the Post Office and National Savings and Investments soaring as people urgently seek the 100 per cent security that only a wholly publicly owned and controlled financial institution can provide, there is clear demand for government-backed banking.
“As well as defending jobs, this can help to meet the growing demand for secure banking and fight for the recovery of Britain’s real economy.
“It’s time for the Post Office People’s Bank, which can become the next great British success story,” Billy added.