- Government commits additional funding of £640 million for the three years up to 2018 to complete modernisation of post office branches
- Investment in vital community post office branches for the first time
- Funding will maintain the current size and coverage of the post office network and significantly improve services for customers.
Postal Affairs Minister Jo Swinson announced investment of £640 million from 2015 to 2018 to maintain the network of over 11,500 Post Office branches. This investment will make sure post office branches are transformed to meet customer demands with longer opening hours and faster services.
For the first time, there will be a dedicated fund of £20 million to invest in smaller community branches. These Post Offices - around 3,000 branches - are at the heart of often deprived or relatively isolated communities, where they are most needed.
A full conversion to a new style of branch may not be suitable but given the crucial role they play in their local communities, the Government and the Post Office are keen to ensure that both they and their customers benefit from significant investment.
The money dedicated to these branches could be used, for example, to invest in new equipment, change the layout of branches and improve signs.
Jo Swinson, Postal Affairs Minister, said:
“The Post Office is a vital part of our social fabric at the heart of our communities. Its network of over 11,500 branches has unparalleled reach up and down the country. The Government is keen to maintain the key role that post offices play. Today’s investment will continue to build on the success of the Post Office modernisation programme which is already well underway.
“We recognise the important service that post offices provide to small and often remote communities, sometimes even as the only shop in the area. This is why we are dedicating specific funding to support modernisation and strengthen the existence of these branches.
“All of this will help build a strong platform on which the Post Office can attract customers and win services so that it can continue to grow its business and thrive.”
Paula Vennells, Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, said:
“We are investing to dramatically improve what we offer, making it easier for customers to do business with us. We are modernising our branch network, increasing our range of financial products and providing new digital platforms. We are going to be wherever our customers are, whether it is close to home, to work or online.
“Today’s announcement comes with a clear commitment – the size of the branch network will be maintained at around its current position of over 11,500 post office branches. Customers have been clear, that they want Post Office services in their communities and on high streets; we want this too whilst also meeting their changing needs.”
Under the current Parliament, the Government has committed £1.34 billion for the Post Office network to make sure there is no programme of Post Office closures and to update branches.
The investment has been used to refurbish many post offices to more modern, attractive spaces often with open plan counters. In the new modern branches, subpostmasters have been able to combine Post Office and retail counters rather than run a separate, standalone Post Office counter in their shops.
This has created more space to sell more goods and allowed subpostmasters to staff their shops more efficiently.
This has brought huge benefits for customers through longer opening hours, ability to access a wider range of services, shorter waiting times and increased convenience.
Notes to editors
1. The Government's economic policy objective is to achieve 'strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries.' It set four ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’ (PDF 1.7MB), published at Budget 2011:
- To create the most competitive tax system in the G20
- To make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
- To encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
- To create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe.
Work is underway across Government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the Government wants the economy to travel.