7 April 2016.
Postmasters have urged Jobseekers to continue using the Post Office and to ignore a recent letter asking them to receive their payments by bank transfer.
The Irish Postmasters’ Union (IPU) said that the Department of Social Protection (DSP) recently wrote to Jobseekers, across the country, requesting their bank details and to change their method of cheque payment to Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT).
IPU General Secretary Ned O’Hara said there had been confusion among the public about these letters and the IPU is meeting the caretaker Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, to request that they be withdrawn.
“The message from Postmasters to Jobseekers is to ignore this letter and continue to use the Post Office as normal. All Jobseekers cheque payments can continue to be taken to the Post Office and cashed.
“Some people thought that they would not be able to use the Post Office any more. This is not true. Post Offices are continuing to provide all welfare transaction services, as normal, to all customers.
“We encourage people to continue using the Post Office and we are currently working with An Post to develop an electronic payments option to expand options for our customers.
“The IPU got assurances from the Department of Social Protection last summer that it would cease trying to coerce people into the private banks – and would play a more active role at encouraging Post Office business. I was therefore surprised and disappointed that this letter was issued,” Mr. O’Hara said.
IPU President Paddy McCann said that the IPU together with Government and An Post is currently involved in a Working Group to develop a five year strategy for Post Offices.
“This process will include consultation with the Department of Social Protection to discuss payment methods. These should be agreed through this forum and in the meantime all conversions to EFT payment by DSP should be ceased until this process is finalised.
“It should be DSP policy to continue offering all customers the choice of using the Post Office for all Social Protection payments.
“Social Protection payments are the single most important part of Post Office business. If this is transferred to the banks then there is no future for our Post Offices – and communities will lose their service.
“The Post Office Network is recognised as providing highly valued economic and social services in communities across the country and this caretaker Government, and the future Government, must ensure that this value is protected and developed,” he said.
Ronan Cavanagh, Cavanagh Communications: (086) 317 9731.