The contract will now remain with the Post Office until 2015, and a number of extensions, including a bank current account, are being considered.
The news comes as a relief to subpostmasters and shoppers. Steve Denham, who owns Cherilyn Post Office and Stores in West Chiltington, West Sussex, said he was thrilled the government had “finally come to its senses”. “The government has at last realised that the Post Office is a significant asset to local communities,” he said.
Vincent Bohannon, owner of The Post Office Stores in Handcross, West Sussex, said that the news had also been welcomed by his older card account users. “We have a large number of card account customers, many of whom were fearful of having to travel further afield in order to access their money,” he said.
Paul Mather of Sherston Post Office in Wiltshire was thrilled by the news that the Post Office was considering introducing a basic current bank account. He said: “A bank account would fit very well. It would also appeal to a much broader range of customers.”