The government is being urged to intervene to save the UK’s post office network from potential collapse, with 2,500 post offices at risk of closure.
The National Federation of SubPostmasters (NFSP) said its 8,000 members felt “disenfranchised” and “marginalised” by the main industry stakeholders - the Post Office, the government and Royal Mail - and “relegated to the bottom of the food chain”.
It warned that the network would not be able to survive if the government subsidy was not extended beyond 2021 when it is due to end.
In its submission to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy select committee, the NFSP is calling for:
- The government subsidy to the post office network to be guaranteed beyond 2021 and ‘rural proofed’ to protect village branchesl
- Increased remuneration rates to prevent a mass exodus of subpostmastersl
- A wider range of government services to be brought back to post offices to drive footfall and give the public face-to-face access.
- A broader range of banking services to be available at post offices and a national strategy to increase awareness of these services.
- A move to develop financial products to cater for disadvantaged and vulnerable individuals to help prevent financial exclusion
According to a survey of NFSP members, nearly a quarter (22%) of subpostmasters plan on closing or downsizing their post office in the next 12 months, which translates into 2,500 post offices at risk of closure.
In a statement, the NFSP said: “The viability of sub post offices and the morale of subpostmasters has been eroded to the extent that the network’s resilience is extremely limited. We believe a tipping point has been passed and the consequences of this are now being realised.
“Subpostmasters are resigning in high numbers because it is increasingly difficult to make a decent living. The closure of 2,500 post offices in a year would be a catastrophic loss to communities across the UK.”
The NFSP chief executive Calum Greenhow will be questioned by MPs about the future of the post office network during an evidence session on 21 May.