- 8 September 2020
- Transport / Logistics Services
Ahead of the coming Comprehensive Spending Review, the National Federation of Subpostmasters (NFSP) has urged the government to commit to an extended subsidy payment and to recognise the work that postmasters do to support their local communities.
A recent survey by the NFSP of 500 of its members shows the vital role that post offices play in supporting local communities, with an emphasis on vulnerable people:
– On average, subpostmasters and their staff keep an eye on 25 potentially vulnerable people meaning that post offices may act as an informal and unpaid support mechanism for around 300,000 vulnerable people across the UK.
– 88% guide vulnerable customers through banking or bill payment transactions every day or most days of the week.
– 64% signpost customers to Government, local council or other public services every day or most days of the week.
– 40% help prevent customers falling victim to scams or fraudulent activity every day or most days of the week.
– 93% of subpostmasters described their post office as a safe place for local people if they need help or feel threatened.
As many as 90% of post offices remained open during the pandemic, providing essential services to their communities. Of those, 90% added services to support their communities such as parcel pickups, grocery deliveries and keeping an eye on older and disabled members of their communities to ensure their wellbeing with house visits.
There is already a government subsidy paid to most post offices to cover the operating costs of the network. This was cut from £210 million nationally in 2012/13 to £50 million in the current financial year. The money is paid to Post Office Ltd, which pays a large proportion to around 5,000 post offices, the majority of which are in rural areas.
NFSP CEO Calum Greenhow states: “The actions of subpostmasters during lockdown spoke volumes not just staying open but going above and beyond to support their communities. Post offices are vital assets to communities and local economies across the UK. Government should take steps to ensure these assets are protected.”
“While it is not possible to say how many rural post offices rely on their fixed element of remuneration to remain open, it is not scaremongering to state that there would be many closures if this were removed.”