Social welfare payments will continue to be made at post offices this year

Social welfare recipients will continue to collect their payments from post offices this year.

An Post has renewed the contract to provide €51m in social welfare payments until the end of 2019.

Child Benefit and Pensions will continue to be paid through the post office network for the next 12 months under the deal.

The Department of Social Protection makes around 79 million social welfare payments every year - 30 million of them are paid in cash through the post office network.

Those cash services will go through an EU-wide public tender process from next year.

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty, said her department is committed to retaining the current level of service for welfare recipients in any new contract.

This includes the obligation to maintain a network of outlets so as to ensure that the vast majority of welfare clients are within 15km of an outlet in a rural area.

Minister Doherty said: “The post office network is an important channel for the delivery of social welfare services – particularly in rural Ireland. While other methods of payment are becoming more available to welfare recipients, I believe fundamentally that people should have a choice in how they receive these payments.

"An Post has provided an excellent service - managing millions of social welfare payments to thousands of welfare clients, many of whom appreciate the opportunity to collect their payments in cash over the counter.”

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