The government has been accused of displaying a “real lack of concern” over post office closures.

A Commons public accounts committee that examined the Post Office’s progress since introducing its Network Change Programme in 2007 deemed that no consideration was given to members of the public affected by branch closures.

As part of the programme the Post Office closed 2,500 branches in the past two years in an effort to make the network more financially sustainable.

Committee chairman Edward Leigh said that the government didn’t consider local communities when making the decision to close the branches.

“The closure of the local post office can be a real blow to the community,” said Leigh. “So the inadequate assessment by the government of the social and economic costs of its programme to close some 2,500 post offices showed a real lack of concern for the citizens affected.”

Leigh also accused the government and the Post Office of deciding to close branches before the public consultation even took place. “The consultation process appeared to the public as little more than a piece of window dressing for a decision which to all intents and purposes had already been taken,” he added.

He called upon the government to clearly show what they expect from the Post Office network and how they hope to achieve it. “What the department has so far not made clear is what a sustainable post office network would look like. It should set out its expectations concerning the size, spread and composition of the network it is striving to achieve.”

 

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