£1.3bn investment means Post Office branches will open longer

Friday, 09 March 2012 05:28

The Post Office is to undergo a £1.3 billion revamp which will improve the design of Post Office sub-branches and increase opening hours.

The investment programme will cover 6,000 branches mainly existing ones based in convenience stores.

The branches that will be selected as part of the programme will become either local or main branches.

There will be 2,000 local branches and 4,000 main branches. The remaining 5,500 sub-branches will stay as they are. A pilot scheme involving 227 sub-branches is already being tested. The pilot scheme will finish in the summer.

The investment is part of the government’s pledge to not shut any more branches and it is designed to make the Post Office network more self sustaining for the requirements of the future and to wean the Post Office off the current government subsidy it receives.

Paula Vennells, Chief Executive Officer, Post Office Ltd, said: “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the Post Office – a chance to revitalise the network and allow it to meet the needs of twenty-first century customers and communities.”

The number of people who use the Post Office branches has fallen from 28 million in 2002 to 20 million now.

In 1963 there were 25,000 branches but this has reduced by more than half to the current number of 11,800. 6,600 have been shut in the last 12 years.

The investment programme will be voluntary and up to sub-postmasters. If the branch is of sufficient size then the sub-postmaster can choose to become a main branch and will receive up to £45,000 investment depending on its size. Branches that opt to become one of the 2,000 local branches will receive an investment of up to £2,000.

Postal Affairs Minister Norman Lamb MP, said: “This Government has made a commitment that there will be no closure programme and invested £1.34 billion to secure the long term future of the Post Office. However, change is needed to secure the long term future of post offices; the pilots are showing the new ‘locals’ and ‘mains’ models are popular with consumers and sub-postmasters.”

If sub-postmasters decide they do not want their branches changed they will be able to leave with 18 months compensation.

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