Thanks to the post office’s decision to extend their ‘Payout Now’ cash access scheme, people who are currently housebound – whether because they are self-isolating or for any other reason – may be able to get access to cash.

While the majority of transactions can be done online or through card payments, access to physical money is still important. For instance, people who are self-isolating may need to hire somebody to help with basic tasks like collecting groceries or walking the dog – neighbourhood groups are great for putting you in touch with those willing to help, but you may need cash to make payment.

Some people also consider cash to be an important tool for managing their finances: many older people in particular rely on using cash for various transactions. So, even if this scheme isn’t something that you require, consider whether it may be useful for relatives or neighbours.

How it works

Payout Now is a scheme that has been running through the post office for some time, and it is now being extended to cover banks as well. Here’s what you need to do in order to take advantage:

  • Call your bank or building society to check that your account is eligible.
  • Let them know exactly how much you would like to withdraw. This will be subject to a maximum withdrawal amount, which they will be able to explain when you speak to them.
  • Give them the details of the person who will be collecting the money. You can nominate anyone you wish.
  • The bank will send your nominated person a barcode which can be displayed on their phone. If necessary, the can also send these out by post, although this will mean that you have to wait longer for your money.
  • Your named individual can go into the local post office branch and collect the money using the barcode. They will also need to show some ID.

Using the Fast PACE service

An alternative option, also run by the post office, is what’s known as the Fast PACE scheme. This involves giving a trusted individual a pre-authorised cheque which they can then cash for you:

  • Write out the cheque to the post office, as you normally would
  • Write the name of the person to cash the cheque on the back. Previously this could only be certain named individuals such as carers, but it is now extended to include anybody.
  • Sign both sides of the cheque.
  • Your trusted individual will need to take the cheque to the post office – they’ll also need to show their own ID.

Staying safe

These schemes should be perfectly safe, as long as you only allow somebody who you trust to collect your money for you – ideally somebody who you know well. Don’t share personal banking details with this individual, such as your debit card or pin number: they only need access to the barcode (if you’re using the Payout Now scheme), or the cheque (if you’re using the Fast PACE service).