UK Post Office network at breaking point

The Government has been warned by the National Federation of SubPostmasters (NFSP) that the Post Office network is ‘beyond tipping point’ without urgent intervention and the network could collapse with ‘catastrophic’ implications to communities.

In its submission to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy select committee, the NFSP lays bare the extent of the crisis facing the post office network:

– Around 1,000 branches are currently listed as closed – two out of every three closures are caused by the resignation of the subpostmaster

– 22% of subpostmasters plan on closing or downsizing their post office in the next 12 months, according to a survey of NFSP members – this translates into 2,500 post offices at risk of closure

– Revenue received by the network from providing government services has fallen from £576 million in 2004-5 to £99 million in 2017-18 and there is no plan in place to replace this income

– The government subsidy of the network is due to end in 2021 – without it, the network would not be able to survive and 3,000 ‘community’ branches, typically in rural areas, would be most at risk

– As banks exit the high street, subpostmasters are increasingly responsible for meeting public demand for banking services, shouldering the risks involved in handling large volumes of cash and responsibility for forgeries, but for relatively low rates of pay.

In April the NFSP said its 8,000 members feel disenfranchised and marginalised by the main stakeholders in the Post Office network – the Post Office, Government and Royal Mail. They feel ‘relegated to the bottom of the food chain’. Thanks to being treated as a cost element that needs reducing by the Post Office, the NFSP said, “The viability of sub post offices and the morale of subpostmasters has been eroded to the extent that the network’s resilience is extremely limited. We believe a tipping point has been passed and the consequences of this are now being realised. “Subpostmasters are resigning in high numbers because it is increasingly difficult to make a decent living. The closure of 2,500 post offices in a year would be a catastrophic loss to communities across the UK”.

Calum Greenhow Chief Executive of the NFSP, will be questioned by MPs about the future of the post office network during an evidence session on Tuesday May 21st.

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