New Labour ministers are set to put up for sale a public service that is vital to the lives of pensioners and some of the poorest sections of the population.
The Post Office card account allows pensioners and those on benefits to collect their money from a local post office each week.
It offers low cost, hassle free banking to almost five million people, many of whom cannot open an ordinary bank account.
It also allows them to access cash machines, and to receive housing benefit and carers’ allowances.
The Post Office holds the card account contract until 2010. But the government has announced that it is putting the contract out to tender – allowing private companies to take over the service.
This move threatens the future of many remaining post offices, which receive a small payment every time the card account is used. These payments are vital to the survival of many offices, particularly in rural areas.
The government’s move to privatise the card account service has sparked protests by pensioners. They are angry over the threat to a vital service and the prospects of further post office closures.