The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has seen some of us affected in ways we weren’t expecting. One issue that has cropped up is accessing cash - something which has become much more difficult, especially for vulnerable people and those self-isolating.
The Post Office has decided to tackle this issue, announcing an extension of one of its services which is designed to make accessing your own money much easier during these difficult times.
This is everything you need to know about the Post Office’s Ask-A-Friend scheme - from how it works to how you can use it.
What is the Ask-A-Friend cash access scheme?
The initiative is actually called the Post Office Payout Now scheme, and it allows an individual to have a trusted friend or volunteer withdraw cash on their behalf from any Post Office, using a single use voucher.
The Post Office has announced that the Payout Now scheme will be available to all UK banks, including building societies and credit unions, so that it is available to any and all customers who may need it.
Previously, only a named individual - such as a carer - could collect cash in this way on someone else's behalf, but this new system is being implemented in order to help those affected by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Martin Kearsley, banking director at the Post Office, said, “Being able to easily access cash is a vital service for older people and those self-isolating.
“[This] means they can access cash quickly and securely to repay someone for a helpful service like shopping, or simply manage their finances, providing peace of mind that cash can be securely sourced with the help of any trusted helper.”
How to use the service
To use the Payout Now service, you’ll need to get in touch with your bank, building society or credit union, who will then be able to issue you a barcode voucher.
The barcode is a one time voucher that will be issued for your chosen amount of money and be sent to you either by SMS text, email or post.
This voucher can then be exchanged for cash at a Post Office branch on your behalf by a family member, friend, carer or volunteer.
You can find your nearest Post Office branch using their Branch Finder service here.
Kearsley said, “Anyone collecting cash on behalf of another person must remember to practise safe distancing and should consider arranging with the recipient how the cash can be safely handed over - perhaps through a person’s letterbox for example.”
Are Post Offices still open?
Post Offices are listed as an essential service, not shut down by the government’s lockdown rules - however, individual branches opening times may be affected.
Kearsley said, “The vast majority of Post Offices are open, however there are branches that have to close for self-isolation purposes.
“Many Post Offices have floor markers and other information on posters to help customers stay two metres apart.”
The Post Office website also states, “Due to the coronavirus pandemic, branch opening times can change at short notice.
“We apologise for the inconvenience caused by unplanned closures.”