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Dublin: 18 °C Wednesday 24 July, 2019
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Here's why postmasters want cashless welfare payments suspended

The cashless welfare payments are due to be introduced by 2017.

Image: Eamonn Farrell/PhotocallIreland

THERE ARE PLANS to bring in cashless welfare transactions at Post Offices – but postmasters want them suspended until a plan for the future of post offices is in place.

The Irish Postmasters’ Union (IPU) is set to meet tomorrow with the Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte on this and other issues.

They want the Government to suspend the current move from cash welfare payments to electronic transfer until a plan for the future of post offices is in place.

They also want to talk to Rabbitte about a number of other issues:

  • The possibility of providing insurance advice services through Post Offices now that An Post has acquired the Aviva branch network,
  • The Minister to instruct An Post to pull back from discussions with Tesco and other multiples regarding services which is “totally unacceptable to Postmasters”
  • Establishing a mechanism to resolve issues between An Post and postmasters.

Cash

At the moment, around half  of the welfare transactions involve cash payment in post offices, making up 30 per cent of post office business.

The Department of Social Protection is moving towards eliminating cash payment by 2017 and replacing it with direct electronic transfer.

However, a recent independent report by Grant Thornton concluded that this move would result in 550 of the 1,100 Post Offices closing, said IPU.

IPU General Secretary Brian McGann said the union recognises that electronic transfer is a modern medium of choice for many people.

But he said a specific plan needs to be developed which “modernises how welfare payments are paid and in parallel modernises how Post Offices provide services”.

We are calling on the Government to suspend the migration of cash welfare payments to electronic transfer to allow time to develop alternative payment mechanisms.

McGann said a solution could be “a full banking service through the Post Office which would facilitate electronic payments and also expand services provided”.

The IPU has recommended the establishment of a working group, under the Chairmanship of UCD-based Professor Ray Kinsella, to report on the issue.

It also wants the Government to give priority to its proposal to provide Motor Tax renewal through post offices, and that this move be speeded up.

Read: Postmasters distance themselves from campaign to ‘Name and Shame’ TDs>

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