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Andrew Simpson

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Welcome for Government u-turn on Post Office Card Account

November 14, 2008 11:00 PM
Boothville Post Office

Boothville Post Office now closed thanks to Labour

Andrew Simpson has welcomed a decision by the Government to abandon proposals to hand over the payment of pensions and benefits from post offices to a private company.

Thousands of elderly people, carers, disabled people and claimants in Northampton currently use their local post offices to receive their pensions and benefits through the Post Office Card Account.

But earlier this year ministers invited bids from private companies as well as the Post Office for the contract to pay out pensions and benefits from 2010.

Had the Post Office lost the contract, up to 6,000 more post offices could have gone to the wall as a result of the lost business. These unmanaged closures would have been in addition to the 2,500 "managed" closures which the Government has already announced.

"The Government's u-turn is welcome here in Northampton," said Andrew Simpson, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Northampton North constituency. "It means our post offices have a better chance of staying open.

"But this is a u-turn that should never have had to happen in the first place. The Government should have realised the importance of post offices to communities and awarded the new contract to the network without these months of delay.

"Instead, local branches have had to deal with the uncertainty that ministerial dithering and unnecessary contracting processes has caused.

"Hopefully, local branches can now plan ahead knowing they will continue to pay out pensions and benefits. But we are also calling on the Government to carry out another u-turn.

"They must stop putting pressure on pensioners and benefit claimants to get their cash paid through the banks. People should have a choice."

"In Northampton North we saw Boothville, Eastfield, Queens Park and Lumbertubs Post Offices closed earlier this year despite massive local opposition. We need to make sure the remaining offices stay open and continue to provide a vital service to the community. The Government should be ensuring more services are provided not threatening existing ones".