UK post offices ‘at risk of closure’
Research by the National Federation of SubPostmasters (NFSP) found many branches were under serious threat.
The NFSP said the survey showed a “clear failure” in the government’s plan to turn the network into “front offices” for government services, which was announced in 2010.
Figures based on responses to 743 questionnaires revealed just 17 per cent of subpostmasters said they could see a strong future for their business, while 51 per cent said they had seen their income decrease in the past year.
The research found post office overheads increased for 70 per cent of subpostmasters while staff costs rose for almost half (48 per cent).
George Thomson, general secretary of the NFSP, said: “There is now little doubt the government’s promise of no more planned closures was hollow, and that the failure to make full use of the network will lead to mass closures through the back door.
“Subpostmasters are angry at the shocking failure of both Post Office financial services and government services to bring in any material increase in revenue for the vast majority of subpost offices, leaving many with an extremely uncertain future.
“Urgent action must be taken to avert a major financial crisis in the network, and further closures which will leave the network unable to compete at a time of huge change. We are looking at all our options to ensure vital changes are made.”
The NFSP said the survey revealed few new services had been introduced since 2010, and most of the financial and government services were yielding little or no income for the vast majority of subpostmasters.
It said less than 10 per cent of subpostmasters receive any income from many of the key Post Office financial services, such as credit cards, insurance for homes, cars and vans, and life assurance.
A Department for Business, Innovation and Skills spokesman said: “The government has committed £1.34 billion to maintain the network of at least 11,500 post offices across the country and there is not and will not be a programme of closures. Government funding will allow for the modernisation of around half of the UK’s post offices, allowing them to compete in a changing retail market.”