UK’s post office network “beyond tipping point”
The National Federation of SubPostmasters (NFSP) is calling on Government to save the UK’s post office network from collapse with ‘catastrophic’ implications for local communities.
The NFSP says the Post Office network has ‘been taken beyond a tipping point’ and its future viability is now in doubt without Government intervention, MPs have been warned.
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.
As reported in April the NFSP says its 8,000 members feel ‘disenfranchised’ and ‘marginalised’ by the main industry stakeholders – the Post Office, the Government and Royal Mail – and ‘relegated to the bottom of the food chain’. They have, in recent years, been treated by the Post Office as a cost element to be reduced, rather than as dedicated, experienced independent business owners upholding high professional standards.
The NFSP warns MPs: “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.
The National Federation of SubPostmasters (NFSP) is a membership organisation, which represents the UK’s subpostmasters. It has more than 8,000 members who operate approximately 9,300 post office branches. It is the only organisation recognised by Post Office Ltd to act on behalf of subpostmasters. Set up in 1897, it is the collective voice of post office operators, offering members representation, support and solutions to realise the full potential of their businesses.