Government provides initial details on end of POCA The Post Office Card Account (POCA) has been a payment mechanism for state benefit and pension claimants since 2003. However, parliamentarians, both in Westminster and the Welsh Assembly, continue to raise concerns that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) discourages claimants from using POCAs. The DWP and government have always actively promoted payment into bank accounts as an alternative, in line with wider financial inclusion policy. Bank account payment is also significantly cheaper for the DWP. 1 As of October 2018, around 1.2 million people were using POCAs. There is also a Payment Exception Service run through PayPoint outlets, for benefit recipients who neither have a bank account or a POCA. The government has now confirmed that before the end of the POCA contract in November 2021, the DWP will implement an alternative payment service which allows claimants to obtain cash in their local area. This will be available for claimants and pensioners who are unable to open a mainstream account. The government states that as we approach the end of the POCA contract, the DWP and POL will issue joint guidance on POCA users’ options to transfer to other payment methods. Meanwhile, POL is tendering for a prepaid card system for people who are financially excluded.
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