Government bias in favour of financial institutions for welfare payments – Cullinane
Sinn Féin Senator David Cullinane today criticised government policy in relation to the payment of social welfare which he said favoured financial institutions over the post office network.
Senator Cullinane said:
“It’s clear that the government want people to transfer their social welfare payments to financial institutions and away from post offices.
“The payment section of pension and welfare application forms now recommends people opt for direct payment to a current account, a deposit account or savings account in a financial institution.
“The form goes on to state ‘this is the best payment option for you as you can receive your payment at a place and time that suits you’. Further down the page, people are told if they do not have a bank account they can indicate a post office for payment.
“This is not acceptable and displays a clear bias on behalf of the Department in favour of financial institutions over post offices.
“By privileging financial institutions, the department will create untold hardship for ordinary people some of whom are very vulnerable.
“Pensioners, people with a disability, single mothers, and people in general have a special relationship with their local post office.
“In most cases, post office staff know people by name, there is an understanding of their needs and social interaction.
“This familiarity and almost one-to-one type of interaction is impossible to replicate in a financial institution.
“Indeed in working class urban areas and in towns across rural Ireland, there are no financial institutions.
“If the government has its way, people will have to travel to their nearest bank which maybe in the next town or city centre. This will add additional costs to people and make it impossible for post offices to be financially viable.
“The government need to recognise that communities, local services and social interaction matter to people.
“Post offices offer a vital public service and their value should be recognised by the government. Instead of slowly killing off this valuable asset, central government should ensure they are financially viable.”