An Post post offices face €17m shortfall

A new report by the Irish Postmasters Union calls for more government investment in the An Post post office network thanks to post offices far exceeding the positive impact on their communities their Public Service Obligation (PSO) requires.

In response to the report, “Review of the economic contribution and financial sustainability of the Irish Post Office Network”, An Post released a statement saying : “Both of An Post’s networks, the delivery network and the Post Office network are performing very well through the crisis.

“An Post does recognise that postmaster incomes and footfall into post offices have come under increased pressure due to the double social welfare payment schedules during COVID and is working with Government to restore these.

“Any subsidies for independent postmasters is an issue between Government and the postmasters.

“An Post earlier this year announced its third year of profit and revenue growth. The pandemic will cost An Post a significant amount but this is funded from An Post’s strong balance sheet and we have supported postmasters during the crisis as double social welfare payments persisted.”

Business advisors Grant Thornton have called for a subsidy of €17 million to cover the projected shortfall in revenues the post offices receive for their work. The annual cost of the network is set to cost €70 million in 2021 but will generate a retail revenue of just €53 million. This amounts to an average loss of €19,181 per post office.

The report notes that other European countries have adopted the PSO model for post offices including the UK, France, Spain, Belgium, Italy, Finland and Poland with the approval of the European Commission.

IPU General Secretary Ned O’Hara said, “Independent research carried out by RED C in February found that: 91% said their Post Office provided a valuable service to the local community, 86% support the Government providing financial support to keep their Post Office open and 86% want more State services available at their Post Office,” he said.

IPU President Sean Martin said,“We have already had the Bobby Kerr led independent review in 2016, followed by a detailed working group including IPU, An Post and government in 2018. And there has been further review group process in 2020 and now we have a comprehensive financial, economic and social analysis from Grant Thornton.

“A Post Office PSO needs to be sanctioned this year and implemented by mid-2021. We do not have time to delay and do not need further evidence. The level of closures next year is potentially so significant as to mean a collapse of the Irish Post Office Network as we know it.”