Subpostmasters have given a cautious welcome to the 10-year Inter-Business Agreement (IBA) between the Post Office and Royal Mail.
The IBA will ensure that Royal Mail products such as first- and second-class post, parcels, air mail, recorded and special deliveries will continue to be offered through the network for another decade. There had been concerns that the network would suffer when separated from Royal Mail under government mutualisation plans.
National Federation of SubPostmasters’ general secretary George Thomson said the IBA would help subpostmasters grow their business. “Subpostmasters will welcome the security this news provides, which will help provide them with the confidence necessary to invest in their businesses for the future. Without this deal, subpostmasters would have faced even greater difficulties in running their businesses and in providing vital services to their communities.”
Thomson added that the government should continue to support the network by ensuring more services are put through it.
Guy Mitchell of Southwold Post Office in Suffolk said that while he welcomed the deal, more needed to be done to ensure the survival of the post office network. “The deal is good because that helps the security of post offices for the next 10 years, but it is not enough simply on its own. We need to see other action from the government for the next 10 years to provide security to post offices.”
John Smith of Rockland St Mary Post Office in Norfolk agreed that government needed to “push business” towards branches. “Things are all right here in my post office, but other post offices may need business now,” he said.
The full terms of the IBA will be agreed before the separation of the Royal Mail and the Post Office is completed.