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Planning Retirement Online

Difficulties accessing pensions in later life


Older people fear struggle to access their money under new system   

Help the Aged calls on Government to urgently address its plans to pay pensions and benefits direct to bank accounts. The Charity also wants a commitment to a good quality network of post offices. 

Traditional  pension and benefit books are to be phased out, with payments being paid direct to a bank, building society or post office account. But collecting their money, in cash, from the post office is the favoured choice for one million older people. The new system puts a low priority on the needs of the eldest and most vulnerable members of society, possibly leaving some without access to their money. 

One major concern is that no provision has been made to allow an older person access to their money if they are taken ill unexpectedly, admitted to hospital, or if they are unable to get out due to severe weather. Equally, little flexibility has been given to the one in five older people who have their pension and benefits collected by more than one person. 

For nearly one million older people who do not have a bank account the post office plays a vital role in their everyday lives. This fundamental change in collecting pension and benefits payments will not only be confusing for some, but with benefit payments providing an average income of 40 per cent to a post office (in some case 70 per cent) it is likely to mean some local post offices will not survive.

Things you should know about the post office (and changes to benefit payments)  

  • The Post Office has the largest retail network in Europe

  • 94% of customers live within a mile of a post office, and  99% within 3 miles

  • Post Offices receive approximately 28 million customers a year

  • The people that depend on Post Offices are the elderly, disabled, single parent families and the less well off

The Bank network

  • Bank branch networks have been drastically reduced over the last decade and many areas are now without local banking coverage, with many rural communities losing all their banks

  • More than 3,600 bank branches have been lost since 1990, and another 3,000 are expected to shut by 2005

  • As many as 600 communities are estimated to have been left without a single bank branch

  • A further 1,000 will lose their last branch by 2004

  • Not all conventional Bank Accounts can be accessed at the Post Office

The role of a Post Offices in rural communities

  •       In areas where a local post office has closed, 76% had a shop attached and 82% of these shops closed when the post office closed

  •      According to a Post Watch survey 75% of people living in rural areas regarded their local post office as “extremely important ”.  With just over half saying the post office was “essential to their way of life”


Role of Post Offices in urban deprived areas 

  •       Post Offices in urban deprived areas serve densely populated areas and therefore do not lack business.  However, they do operate in a difficult environment - crime is a real problem

  •      89% of customers and 91% of residents feel that Post Offices have an important community role.  94% of customers and 88% of residents use post offices for services which are important to them

  •      If a Post Office closed, 53% said it would be an inconvenience to use an alternative Post Office

The role of a post master and mistress

  •      50% of sub-postmasters say they keep an eye on up to 20 – 50 people

  •      79% of post office customers see sub-postmasters/mistresses as an important source of information

Effect of changes to the payments of pensions and benefits on the Post office network

  • Benefit Payments provide an average income of 40% to a Post Office (in some cases up to 70%)

  • Around 1 million older people do not have bank accounts


If you wish to know more visit the Website: 
Or contact the Help the Aged Switchboard: +44 (0)20 7278 1114



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