Deprived urban Post Offices to get £2M funding boost
Post Offices in deprived urban areas in Scotland are to get a £2million boost to help save them from closure, it was announced yesterday.
The Scottish Executive move follows criticism that urban post offices, which play a pivotal role in communities, were being denied access to a £60million Government subsidy to their rural counterparts in Scotland.
Over the next two years, urban subpostmasters will be able to apply for a one-off grant of up to £50,000.
The Executive is keen to help post offices diversify and increase their viability as a result of lost income when pensions and benefits are to be paid directly into bank and building society accounts in April.
Post offices can also apply for help for capital improvements to safety and accessibility. This could include improving access for people with disabilities, installing security systems such as CCTV and up-to-date alarm systems and better lighting.
Mervyn Jones, of the National Federation of Subpostmasters, said: “We are delighted with this announcement. Subpostmasters and their staff provide a very valuable service in many areas which have severe social and economic problems.
“They don’t always get the recognition that they deserve. Many have to work in rundown properties and often under very difficult circumstances.
“This money will help secure the long-term future for some of these post offices. Our members in deprived urban areas will be able to get help to improve their premises and increase the range of products they offer. That can only be of benefit to the customer.”
Deputy Social Justice Minister Des McNulty said the Executive wanted to ensure that deprived areas retain vital community services.
“Post offices provide socially important services and facilities as well as acting as an anchor for other retail activity in the community,” he added.
“I would encourage all eligible post offices to apply for a slice of this funding.”