Just one week left for benefit claimants to make sure their payments aren’t stopped

THERE'S just one week left for thousands of Brits claiming benefits to take action to prevent their payments being stopped.

A major change to the way certain benefits are paid means payments could be frozen from November 30.

Anyone who gets certain benefits paid into a Post Office card account needs toarrange a new way to get their money before this date.

The government is stopping payments to these accounts for anyone who gets tax credits, child benefit or guardian's allowance.

From December 1, HMRC will stop making payments to the accounts which are designed for people who don't have a bank account.

Anyone who gets the above payments will need to open a new bank account, or give HMRC details of an existing account to continue getting the money.

Otherwise, payments will be suspended until you let the tax office know your bank details.

If you get benefits paid by the DWP – rather than HMRC – into a Post Office account, you will continue to get payments for now.

That includes Universal Credit and the State Pension.

Payments of these benefits to the accounts will stop too, but not until next year.

They had been due to stop at the same time, but thousands of people have been given extra time to make the switch to a new account, many of them older and more vulnerable.

HMRC is urging customers who receive their payments via this method to act now so they still get their money on time.

An estimated 382,000 people use a Post Office card account, which can be used to withdraw funds with no fees or charges.

The service closed for new benefit claimants last year. 

The Post Office first introduced their card accounts in 2003 to replace the old state pension "order books".

How can I get my benefit payments if my Post Office account is closing?

Anyone who already has a bank account with a bank or building society can choose for their payments to be made into there instead.

To make sure you don't miss a payment, you'll need to tell HMRC your bank account details by November 30.

You can do this by updating your Personal Tax Account or Child Benefit account online at gov.uk or by calling 0300 200 3100.

Anyone getting tax credits can change their account details online via gov.uk by calling the tax credits helpline on 0345 300 3900.

You should also have received a letter from HMRC with information on how to update your details.

If you don't tell HMRC by this date, you'll get the payments you're owed once you do notify them.

If you get payments from the DWP and HMRC, you still need update HMRC with new account details.

You also need to tell the Post Office to close your card account – make sure you withdraw any money first.

You can do this by completing an account closure form at your local Post Office, or calling 0345 722 33 44.

Those who don't already have another bank account will need to open one and let HMRC know the new account details so that payments go to the new account.

When you open a new bank account you can still use the new card you are given to withdraw cash at Post Offices, as well as other locations like cash machines.

For anyone unable to open an account, the government Payment Exceptions Service can be used.

This is a payment card, voucher by email, or text message containing a unique reference number that can be used to access benefit payments from PayPoint outlets which are in shops and newsagents.

You'll need to speak to your local benefits office to get this set up or respond to the letter about Post Office card account closures you got from the HMRC.

How do I open a bank account?

The government's MoneyHelper service says you have three options for a new account:

  • current account
  • basic bank account
  • prepaid card

A basic bank account is designed for people who don't qualify for a bank's current standard account – for example, they've got poor credit history and have experience of serious money problems.

Pre-paid cards can also be used if you can't get a current account, but Martin Lewis has warned that that they often come with expensive and unnecessary charges.

All three types of account can be used to deal with day-to-day spending and paying bills, as well as getting your benefit payments.

It's worth comparing the different types of bank account to work out the best option for you.

You can check out MoneyHelper's guide to choosing the best bank account for benefit payments.

Some bank accounts are even offering free cash bonuses for opening accounts with them.

However, you'll need to check first if you qualify for the account and that it suits your needs.

 

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