British pensions will not be paid into Cypriot bank accounts for the foreseeable future and expats are advised to open UK accounts, the Department for Work and Pensions has said.

A spokeswoman said payments into Cypriot bank accounts will not resume when banks on the island reopen — currently planned for Thursday.

In a statement to MPs, pensions minister Steve Webb said the Government is advising people to either switch their payments to a British account they already have or to open a new one.

About 6,000 of the 18,133 British expats on Cyprus use a British bank account already and so are not affected by the freeze.

Mr Webb said: “We are advising customers to change the bank account into which payments are made, for example by nominating an alternative bank account or the account of a ‘trusted friend’ which is permissible under our current rules on benefit payment.

“This is a practical measure to ensure that payments reach our customers promptly, and we are not advising these customers to close their Cypriot bank accounts.”

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