State pension UK: How to convert & close a POCA as the DWP plans to stop payments

Martin Lewis discusses state pension underpayments

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State pension payments can be received into a POCA, which is a special bank account that can only be received from the Post Office that allows automated Government payments. On top of pensions, the card can also be used for certain state benefits.

POCA cards are a popular option for retirees but recently, the DWP confirmed they’ll stop making payments into the card from November 2021.

Ahead of this, the DWP will be encouraging holders to convert their cards over the coming months, as the Post Office detailed: “DWP and other Government departments are implementing a conversion campaign to encourage POCA customers to convert to an alternative account to receive payment of pensions, benefits and tax credits.

“You are likely to receive a letter during the next 12 months asking for your bank account details or providing information on where to go for advice on opening an account.

“Many of our customers have already received a letter and converted to a bank account and are continuing to visit their Post Office branch to withdraw their money.”

Additionally, retirees have been urged to wait until they start receiving state pension payments into a new bank account before closing their POCA.

As the Money Advice Service explained: “Any remaining money left in your old account will be transferred over to your new account.

“To close the account you will need to collect a P6703 account closure form from your local Post Office or call the Post Office contact centre to have a form sent to you.”

When a person is ready, they can close their POCA account by completing a P6703 closure form, which is available at local Post Offices or through calling the POCA helpline on 03457223344.

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This form will need to be completed and taken to a local Post Office branch where the details will be checked and forwarded for processing.

The account closure process can take up to 10 working days. Additionally, POCAs can be closed by a third party and in this case, a P6702 form will need to be completed.

A similar process will be followed but in all instances, the third party named on the form will need to provide at least two identity documents.

On top of this, they will need to give all the relevant documents listed on the form.

For those who already have another account they can switch payment into, they will easily be able to do this by calling the DWP helpline on 0800 085 7133.

When calling, they will be asked to provide a bank account number and sort code.

Last year, Thérèse Coffey, the Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions, highlighted the DWPs intention to close POCAs in the following statement made in the Commons: “I can also inform the House today that DWP will stop any new benefit and pension claimants from using the Post Office Card Account (POCA) from May 11, as we prepare for the end of this contract.

“Uptake of accounts in the last year has been exceptionally low but in any event, given that the vast majority of people using POCA we believe already have a bank account, the cost of the contract is poor value for taxpayers.

“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.”

State pension payments are usually paid once every four weeks into an account of the recipients choosing.

Initial payments will arrive within five weeks of reaching state pension age and the actual payment day of the week will depend on the claimant’s National Insurance number.

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