Postmasters have urged jobseekers to continue using the Post Office and to ignore a recent letter from the Department of Social Social Protection asking them to receive their payments by bank transfer.

The Irish Postmasters’ Union (IPU) said that the department had written to jobseekers requesting their bank details and to change their method of payment from cheque to bank transfer.

IPU executive member and Southern spokesperson Paddy O’Shea, said that there has been confusion about the letters and the IPU is meeting with Minister Joan Burton to request that the letters be withdrawn.

“All jobseekers’ cheque payments can continue to be taken to the Post Office and cashed. Some people thought that they would not be able to use the Post Office anymore. This is not true. Post offices are continuing to provide all welfare transaction services, as normal, to all customers,” he said.

Mr O’Shea added that the IPU had gotten assurances that the department would actively encourage Post Office business.

“I was therefore surprised and disappointed that this letter was issued,” he said.

The IPU, together with An Post, are working on developing a five-year strategy for post offices. He stressed that social protection payments are the ‘single most important part of Post Office business’ and if this is transferred to banks, communities could lose the Post Office service.