Politicians from all parties have demanded a Government rethink over plans to change the way thousands of older people collect their pensions and benefits.

The Government yesterday revealed 97,500 people in Birmingham and Solihull are using Post Office Card Accounts to collect payments - but it is determined to press ahead with plans to axe the accounts by 2010. Ministers want the money to be paid into bank accounts instead.

However, campaigners such as Help the Aged and the National Pensioners Convention say the move will cause upheaval and confusion for elderly people who still want to collect their money from a post office, and may not have a bank account.

MPs warned they were "gravely concerned" by the rush to abolish the scheme, in a House of Commons motion.

They called on the Government "to institute an immediate review of the DWP's proposal to abolish the Post Office Card Account by 2010".

MPs signing the statement included Birmingham MPs Lynne Jones (Lab Selly Oak), Richard Burden (Lab Northfield), Clare Short (Lab Ladywood), John Hemming (Lib Dem Perry Barr), Andrew Mitchell (Con Sutton Coldfield) and Roger Godsiff (Lab Sparkbrook & Small Heath).

The cards were introduced only three years ago, at a national cost of £1 billion, after benefit books were scrapped.

Sutton Coldfield MP Andrew Mitchell (Con) said: "These official figures show 5,100 people in my constituency depend on Post Office card accounts. And there are almost 100,000 people across Birmingham who rely on post offices to collect pensions or benefits.

"The Government is rushing these changes in without consultation or proper planning."

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