THE Government has ditched plans to prevent new benefits claimants from receiving Universal Credit through a Post Office card account.

A leaked Department of Work and Pensions presentation revealed plans to scrap the use of the simple card account to access benefits payments.

The plan was due to come into force from the start of the month.

Colchester councillor Tim Young feared this “sudden” removal of the card account as an option for new claimants would “hit the poorest hardest”.

The Post Office account is used to collect pensions and by benefits claimants who find themselves unable to open a regular bank account.

The leaked document said preventing new claimants from using the account would save the Government more than £1 million.

The Government’s contract for the Post Office card account comes to an end in November 2021.

However, in a letter responding to Mr Young’s concerns, MP Guy Opperman, Minister for Pensions and Financial Inclusion, confirmed the Government would allow claimants to use Post Office card accounts until a replacement service is secured.

He said: “The department recognises some customers are unable to open or manage a bank account, therefore, commercial arrangements for a replacement payment exception service are under way.

“The new payment service will ensure users can continue to obtain cash payments in their area before the end of the Post Office card account contract in November 2021.

“So for now, pension and benefit recipients can continue to use their Post Office card account, but the department is encouraging individuals to consider switching to a standard account, if they are able to do so, before the end of the contract.”

A DWP spokesman told the Gazette the department does not comment on leaked documents.

Mr Young said: “The department has given way on the February start date when they were planning to turn down new Universal Credit applicants with only a Post Office card account.

“This is very good news for a lot of individuals and families who are up against it.

“It is, at last, a reply and confirmation that through raising this issue we have obtained and achieved a delay.”