THE government has announced that it is to strip post offices of the contract for handing out giro cheques and has instead awarded the £20 million a year contract to Citibank.
The decision has been condemned by unions, consumer groups and opposition MPs as the latest step in undermining the future of the post office network following the privatisation of Royal Mail. The benefits go out to 250,000 people and there are concerns it is another step in post offices being removed as the centre of community activity. Labour’s Gregg McClymont was a leading critic of the privatisation of Royal Mail because it would free the new company to leave the post office network and threaten the existence of at least 7,000 of the 11,500 branches. He argued that the removal of the giro cheques was going back on pledges made by ministers.