Government response to Post Office Network report published
2 June 2020
The Government’s response to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee report on the Future of the Post Office Network has been published today.
Darren Jones, Chair of the BEIS Committee, has also written today to BEIS Minister Paul Scully to press the Government to act on a series of areas not addressed in the Government’s response.
Darren Jones, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, said:
“Post Offices are an essential public service, rooted in communities up and down the country and offering a lifeline to many who rely on them not only for postal services but to help them avoid financial and social exclusion. The reality, however, is that our Post Office network remains fragile and, on the central issue of the Network Subsidy, the Government fails to give an assurance that future funding will continue beyond 2021. Nor does the Government take the opportunity to explicitly commit to maintaining the 11,500 Post Office branches that BEIS Ministers barely months ago said were necessary to sustain a national Post Office Network.
“It is important the Post Office is held properly accountable by Government. We welcome the publication of the new Framework Document to govern the relationship between BEIS, UK Government Investments and Post Office Ltd but it is important the Government spells out in detail how this will be an improvement on what came before. Especially given the debacle of the Horizon cases and the personal grief suffered in these instances, it is crucial there is confidence in Government oversight of Post Office Ltd decisions, not least in terms of value for money and treating those who work for the Post Office fairly.”
The Chair’s correspondence published today also raises issues concerning payment practices, the potential for Post Offices to handle deliveries from other responsible parcel services, and matters regarding representation by the National Federation of Sub-postmasters and not allowing the Communication Workers Union to take part in relevant Working Groups on the Post Office network.
On 25 October 2019, the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee published its First Report of Session 2019, Future of the Post Office Network (HC 247). Due to the 2019 General Election, the response from the Government was delayed. The Government response was received in March 2020 and is published today.