The Post Bank proposals from Peter Mandelson have been welcomed with open arms and, given the current disapproval of the high street banks, a 'People's Bank' could tap into the public's cry for an alternative to traditional savings institutions while giving people another reason to visit branches. However, a similar scheme in the Republic of Ireland recently fell apart at a cost of 260 jobs, so any new government planning to introduce this will have to be wary of making the same mistakes.
The network took another blow when the National Savings & Investment (NS&I) ISA scheme was removed last year and there are plans to move further services away from post offices. This contradicts Labour's declared support and threatens its promise of no more closures.
National Federation of SubPostmasters chief executive George Thomson has called for the NS&I to maintain all of its services to be offered through the network as well as other government services.
The Post Bank is top of Labour's proposals to sustain the network and the party seems to be pinning its hopes on this scheme to win over disillusioned subpostmasters. The party says hopes that the 'People's Bank' will provide an alternative to the conventional private sector as "banks have let down consumers." Business Secretary Peter Mandelson says "the Post Bank will bring more banking services back to the heart of communities"
Pledging £180m to help maintain the network's current size throughout 2011/2012.
Reform the Post Office Card Account l Encourage local councils to assess what services could be run through the network
Allow the public to use the network to access information on government services
According to shadow business secretary Ken Clarke, the Conservatives' aim is to give subpostmasters more freedom by offering a wider range of business and government services and turn branches into a "one-stop shop" for customer needs.
The Liberal Democrats have promised to separate the Post Office from Royal Mail, sell off half of Royal Mail and use the revenue to support the network
They will focus on new sources of revenue which include a Post Bank, and aim to keep open branches in rural areas to help sustain communities
Elsewhere, to help combat branch closures, the respective assemblies in Scotland and Wales have pledged £10m between them to support post offices.