Karran brands post office plans ‘social vandalism’

Peter Karran MHK

Peter Karran MHK

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Liberal Vannin leader Peter Karran has called for a meeting with the Social Care Minister over plans to stop direct payment of benefits at the post office.

The island branch of the National Subpostmasters’ Federation has warned branches could close if customers can no longer cash their pension books and vouchers for child benefit and other allowances at the post office.

The Department of Social Care is looking to make savings by switching to other methods including pre-payment cards in the next 12 to 18 months.

Mr Karran has written to Social Care Minister Chris Robertshaw calling for a meeting to discuss the proposed changes and withdrawal of services at sub-post offices.

He said: ‘I believe this will be a major act of social vandalism on a number of fronts not just for the elderly and infirm but also to the members of our society with inadequate personal finances.’

Mr Karran pointed out that there has beena trend in recent years for banks to close local branches, the latest example being the Isle of Man Bank in Laxey. He said the elderly and infirm were concerned about having to travel into Ramsey and Laxey and this problem would increase should services be withdrawn from post offices too.

‘It is important that this sector of our community is not abandoned simply to save a few pounds for us in government,’ he added.

About £74 million of pensions and benefits are handled through the Post Office each year.

The Department of Social Care pays Isle of Man Post Office about £500,000 a year for the service.

Mr Robertshaw says his department is responding to the increasing trends for pensioners to have their pensions paid direct into their bank accounts. He believes sub-post offices will face a challenging future whether or not changes are made to the way pensions and benefits are paid.

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