The government has been accused of "lacking detail and clarity" in its response to the recent Business, Innovation and Skills Committee publication on the future of the Post Office network.

The original report, published in June, detailed how the government could help out the network by establishing a 'People's Bank' through the network, and the Committee was expecting a positive engagement from the government as a result. However, the government's low-key response has instead prompted anger and confusion from the committee and trade bodies.

Although the government praised the relationship that has been built between the Post Office and convenience stores, its advice in setting up a People's Bank simply stated: "The Post Office should work towards a greater provision of banking services through the network, and this should be the priority."

Committee chairman and Conservative MP Peter Luff said that more detail was needed to carry out the government's advice. "While we welcome the positive response to our report, we are seeking more clarity on how the Business, Innovation and Skills department and the Post Office are going to develop banking services delivered through the network," he said.

"If the government agrees this is a priority, then it or the Post Office must spell out urgently not just the extra services that need to be provided but which of the competing banking models it needs to pursue."

General secretary of the National Federation of Subpostmasters George Thomson said it was "a missed opportunity" to revitalise the post office network.

"Many subpostmasters are struggling to survive and the post office network remains under severe strain, despite two nationwide closure programmes in seven years," he said. "We believe that a government-backed Postbank is urgently required to help sustain post offices and to bring trusted, local banking back to the heart of our communities."

Topics