The new ICL-developed plastic Payment Card for benefits and pensions, which will replace the traditional system of order books and girocheques, was presented to the first customer today by the Secretary of State for Social Security, Peter Lilley.
Lilley presented the first card to Victoria Yemm from Leonard Stanley, Gloucestershire, today at her local post office. He said:"I am extremely pleased to be able to present the first of these new Payment Cards. Not only will they be simple and convenient to use, they will also be more secure than the old order books, virtually eliminating fraud at the point of encashment. This means they will be much less attractive to thieves and fraudsters and safer to carry for ordinary people. The card is also less costly to administer than the old system of order books and girocheques."
The new Payment Card is being launched in 10 post offices in the Stroud area of Gloucestershire. The initial phase of the programme begins today. It will involve more than 1,400 people receiving child benefit from the 10 post offices.
Today's launch comes less than six months after ICL Pathway was awarded the contract to develop the new system. This is the first step in a huge programme affecting nearly 20 million customers, and the system will continue to be thoroughly trialled at each stage of its implementation. By the summer of 1997, up to 300 post offices each week will be coming onstream, paying child benefit to families throughout the UK. Eventually, all social security payments collected through post offices will be made through the Payment Card.
The benefit Payment Card system was developed and is being installed and operated by ICL Pathway through the government's Private Finance Initiative scheme.
The project will eventually involve the automation of 19,500 post offices, the training of more than 60,000 post office staff and the processing of 890 million payments annually.
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