Universal Credit has seen unprecedented levels of demand in recent weeks as coronavirus continued to wreak havoc on people’s incomes. The disease has forced businesses to close their doors which in turn has reduced people’s hours or made them unemployed entirely.
Yesterday (May 4), Thérèse Coffey made a statement in parliament concerning the DWP’s response to coronavirus.
She started by revealing just how dramatic the situation has got.
She revealed that from March 16 to the end of April, over 1.8 million claims came through for Universal Credit.
On top of this, the DWP also saw more than 250,000 claims for jobseeker’s allowance and over 20,000 claims for employment and support allowance.
“Current customers who currently receive payment through a Post Office card account will see no change and will continue to receive payment into their accounts for the remainder of the contract period.
“We can use the HMG Payment Exception Service for people who cannot access any bank account.”
While Thérèse confirmed that the vast majority of benefit claimants preferred to not use POCA, there is still a large proportion of the community who rely on it.
A recent commons research briefing revealed that around 900,000 people use POCA for state pension or benefit payments.
The briefing revealed that the government aims to help people using POCA who are stuck in a coronavirus predicament, but they have so far only contacted a small number of affected claimants.
As the briefing quoted: “There are approximately 900,000 users of the Post Office Card Account (POCA) system for accessing their pensions or benefits.
“These POCA customers ordinarily need to leave the house to access payments at the Post Office. The Department has worked closely with the National Shielding Service which is contacting clinically vulnerable citizens who have been advised by NHS England to shield as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.
“We launched a new service on 10th April through which we have contacted 27,000 citizens who have POCA accounts and we considered who may need support to access their Benefit or State Pension payment.
“The Department has worked tirelessly to identify those older, vulnerable customers who urgently require help to access their payments.”
The Post Office Card Account was launched in 2003 and it was introduced to provide a “simple” banking facility for consumers without regular bank accounts.
The government currently has plans to discontinue the scheme in the coming years.
Published at Tue, 05 May 2020 16:20:00 +0000