Friday, 12 January 2018 19:53

Post offices given community status

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Post offices given community status

Some 3000 post office counters have been designated “community branches” as they deliver services to rural residents, says the government.

Business minister Andrew Griffiths was responding to a parliamentary written question about government funding for the post office network.

Shadow minister Chris Ruane had asked how many community post offices in each parliamentary constituency receive funding from the public purse.

    See also: Why rural post offices are essential

Mr Griffiths said the post office was modernising and improving its national network.

Thousands of branches were benefitting from investment under the government-funded network transformation programme, he said.

“This programme has already seen over 7,000 of the network’s branches modernised, delivering benefits to customers, including much longer opening hours and improved branch environments.

“It has also seen around 3,000 branches designated as ‘community branches’.

    'Last village shop'

“These are typically ‘the last shop or service in a village or community’, providing vital access to post office services in areas which are mostly remote, rural or urban deprived.”

Community Branches were continuing to receive a fixed element of remuneration from Post Office, and did not receive government funding directly, said Mr Griffiths.

Additionally, these branches also had access to a £20m government funded community branch fund, to provide them with investment to help support their long-term sustainability.

The parliamentary exchange comes two months after Citizens Advice warned that government funding for post offices was vital to maintain rural services.

People in rural areas are more likely than their urban counterparts to depend on their local post office for key services, said a report by the charity.

    Benefits

These included banking, collecting state benefits, pensions and purchasing household goods – as well as postal services.

Citizens Advice said it was calling on government to commit to continued post office funding amid an ongoing decline in the number of pubs, banks and shops.

The charity is the statutory watchdog for postal consumers.

A poll of over 800 rural residents found a over a quarter of people rely on their local post office for learning about local events and services.

The survey also found 1 in 5 people said they would lose contact with neighbours or friends if it wasn't for their local post office.

People in this conversation

  • We have been operating as a Post Office Plus now for one year. In spite of commission known as Remuneration, it is costing the community shop about £5000 a year to keep the PO service going. This is £5000 from the small surplus we make on trading. The only cost is staff wages. The only way to reduce this deficit is to open the PO for fewer hours, or maybe close the PO completely. This would have a devastating effect on the local and surrounding communities. There is no public transport. Help!

    from Bishop's Caundle, Sherborne DT9 5NQ, UK

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