Post Office 'past tipping point' with 2,500 potential closures this year

May 20, 2019

The Post Office network is at "tipping point" and 2,500 branches could close in a year, the subpostmasters' federation has warned.

It says the effect on communities - where sometimes the post office is the only shop - could be catastrophic.

The National Federation of Subpostmasters (NFSP) told the government's business committee its members' morale and the viability of post offices had 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," it said.

"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."

The NFSP says more than a fifth of postmasters - who run their branches as private businesses - are thinking of shutting up shop, downsizing or trying to get someone to take over.

Three-quarters of them end up earning less per hour than the National Living Wage, according to a recent poll by the federation.

One in five also say they or their partner have to do another job to make ends meet.

As of March 2018 there were around 11,500 post offices in operation.

As the move to online continues, the money post offices make from providing government services has plunged from £576m in 2005 to £99m in 2018.

The NFSP says its members feel "relegated to the bottom of the food chain" by the government and Royal Mail and it wants the subsidy of post offices - due to end in 2021 - to be extended.

The number of post offices has been relatively stable since 2009, though the overall network size has declined since the 1980s. The Post Office was separated from Royal Mail in 2012.

The business, energy and industrial strategy committee is investigating the state of the Post Office network and on Tuesday will hear evidence from the NFSP, as well as the Communication Workers Union, WH Smith and other groups.

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