Just two weeks after business secretary Peter Mandelson urged the post office network to diversify its services, the government-backed National Savings and Investments (NS&I) ISA has been removed from post offices. The service is now exclusively available by post, telephone or online.

In his rallying cry to sub postmasters, Mandelson called upon the network to "innovate, look to the future and identify new opportunities."

However, Julie Bohannon of Handcross post office in West Sussex said that business hasn't been affected by the loss of the service. "Most of our customers use a direct debit to pay into it. Since it was removed we've only had one customer asking about it."

However, postal service watchdog Consumer Focus believes the decision could be harmful. "It's worrying that while government support is being promised to the post office network, government-backed business is being taken away," said Consumer Focus expert Richard Bates.

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