Cash delivery payments are now available for the most vulnerable individuals thanks to Post Office in partnership with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
The cash payments are available to the DWP to use to support their most vulnerable customers, initially in England, who are shielding because of the risk of infection should they leave their home. The National Shielding Service is a working partnership with DWP that enables contact to be made with specific customers to determine if they need to receive a cash payment to be delivered.
This new cash delivery option has initially been made available to those Post Office Card Account (POca) customers who are shielding at home and are the most at risk from the virus. There are around 27,000 POca customers to whom this could apply and they are being actively contacted to ensure they are able to regularly access their payments.
This service adds to the range of measures the DWP can use to support these individuals shielding at home, providing a last-option mechanism for customers to receive cash who cannot visit their normal payment location or do not have a nominated agent to collect from a Post Office branch on their behalf. The permanent agent process is also being improved and from 24 April, will allow the account holder to nominate an agent over the phone.
When notified by DWP of those individuals who require a cash delivery, Post Office will ensure cash is sent to their home using Royal Mail Special Delivery and that it arrives by 9pm the following day. This means that those individuals who must avoid leaving the home because of the risk of infection receive the cash that they need.
Post Office has repurposed part of its foreign exchange cash delivery business to enable the overnight delivery of sterling cash directly to vulnerable customers to meet demand, so the service will not impact branches.
Guy Opperman, the Minister for Pensions and Financial Inclusion, said: "We’re doing whatever it takes to ensure people are supported through these unprecedented times. This joint initiative enables us to reach out directly to those most likely to need support, and get cash delivered to their door where necessary. Thanks to the hard work of DWP and Post Office staff, vulnerable customers can rest assured there is help available if they need it."
Nick Read, Chief Executive at the Post Office, said: “I am delighted that Post Office has been able to switch its travel money delivery business to get cash directly to those that need it most. Working with the DWP we are able to help some of the most vulnerable in our society, including those who have been asked to shield themselves at home, with the ability to deliver cash directly to their door.”
Postal Affairs Minister, Paul Scully, said: “Vulnerable people may be self-isolating but they are not alone. This vital service will ensure the Government can get cash to people that need it, without them having to leave their homes. I want to thank Postmasters and their teams for their continued hard work to support our communities across the UK.”
Questions and answers
Why are you taking business away from Post Office branches by delivering cash directly to customers?
These are unprecedented times and we have to put the needs of vulnerable customers first, who are isolating at home or who have been asked to shield due to their clinical risk of infection from coronavirus. This means that those individuals who must avoid leaving the home because of the risk of infection receive the cash that they need.
These are not customers who are currently visiting your branch, but they do need cash to survive. We expect that volumes will be relatively low as a majority of those isolating will look to close friends and family for help. But for those without, this service provides an important lifeline.
How will this help customers who are isolating?
The service that we have announced in partnership with the Department for Work and Pension will help those who are isolating at home, for example those asked to shield due to their clinical risk from coronavirus. This service has also been made available for DWP to use for anyone who receives benefits or pensions and finds themselves in a difficult situation during this crisis.
There are around 27,000 Post Office Card Account (POca) customers who are shielding and they are being actively contacted to make sure they are able to regularly access their payments. When we asked you to let your Area Managers know about vulnerable customers who weren’t regularly coming into branch, this was to help facilitate this process.
How are the 27,000 being identified?
The Department of Work and Pensions, working with the National Shielding Service, have cross referenced the data that has been gathered of those that are shielding with Post Office Card Account (POca) holders to identify the 27,000 that they believe to be at risk. The National Shielding Service, working with DWP, are contacting these customers directly. When we asked you to let your Area Managers know about vulnerable customers who weren’t regularly coming into branch, this was to help facilitate this process.
Is the scheme going to be expanded? And when?
At present, DWP are making outbound calls to those that have been identified as most at risk. This service has also been made available for DWP to use for anyone who receives benefits or pensions and finds themselves in a difficult situation during this crisis. The Department for Work and Pensions have a number of mechanisms to help them provide assistance to customers and this is one of those options. Post Office is also making the service available to all banks, building societies and credit unions who believe it may be relevant for their customers.
How much cash can customers request to be delivered?
The amount of cash delivered will be agreed between the individual and the Department for Work and Pensions.
How does the Royal Mail special delivery work?
Once the cash has been processed and packaged for delivery, we have made arrangements with Royal Mail for the cash to be sent Special Delivery. This means that once the cash has been packaged and dispatched, it will arrive at with the customer by 9pm the following day.
I thought you were never supposed to post cash through the post – how can you guarantee that the person who requests the cash will receive it? These are the most vulnerable people in society.
We are using Royal Mail Special Delivery, which is insured, tracked and signed for service. From the moment that the package enters Royal Mail’s network, it is tracked several times, until the reaches the point of delivery. The process is completely secure and regularly used for shipping high value items within the UK. Should a package not arrive, the customer will not be out of pocket.
What do I do if a customer asks how to access this home delivery service?
Access to this service is being led by DWP, therefore the customer should contact DWP to discuss their cash access needs.
Is there an in-branch process I need to follow to account for the cash being sent using this service?
No, the cash delivery service is being coordinated directly between DWP and Post Office, so it will not impact branches. This is for vulnerable customers who are not currently visiting your branch, but they do need cash to survive.