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Caithness News Bulletins January 2006

January 2007 December 2006

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Post Office Network Consultation    
The Future Of Post Offices In The UK
The Department Of Trade and Industry (DTI) is currently running a consultation into the future of the Post Office Network.  The consultation closes for responses on 8 March 2007. the Post Office network is losing £4million per week having risen from £2 million per week a year ago.  People have moved away from using post offices in favour of banks for things like pensions payments and benefit payments.  The numbers of customers using post offices on weekly basis continues to fall.  the government has made a number of proposals and these are now included in the consultation document for comments by the public and other bodies.  With 2500 post offices targeted for closure this will be one of the biggest changes both for the post office and  possibly many rural areas.  Caithness has already seen the introduction of a mobile post office to replace five post offices.  Have you any thoughts about the possibility of further reductions in the branch network.  Send you thoughts and ideas via the online form


  • There are currently around 14,500 post offices in the UK. The network is losing £4m per week.
  • Technological advancements have changed the way in which people use the post office in recent years and the majority of post offices have experienced falling numbers of customers.
  • The government have stated that the majority of post offices are unprofitable - 80% of those in rural areas are unprofitable.
  • At present the post office network across the UK is subsidised by the UK parliament to the sum of £150 million per year which is due to run out in 2008. This subsidy forces Royal Mail to maintain rural post offices and prevent any avoidable closures.
  • The UK Government has indicated that the current position is unsustainable.

Current Position

  • The Department of Trade and Industry released its consultation document regarding the future of the post office network on 14th December 2006.
  • The consultation paper sets out several key themes:
    ·         how the government proposes to reform the post office network across the UK;
    ·         the criteria by which it will establish the network in the future;
    ·         the ways in which it intends to support the network across the UK.
  • The consultation paper affirms the government’s commitment to the post office network.  It details that funding will be made available in order to stabilise the network over the next five years and that an ongoing subsidy will be maintained.
  • However, as expected, the consultation announces that around 2,500 post offices across the UK will need to close in order to restructure the network.  Alternative options for providing post office services in areas where post offices will be closed are set out in the consultation document.
  • The consultation process lasts for three months, following which the criteria for the future of the network will be established.  Closures will be agreed by Post Office Ltd, Postwatch and local subpostmasters.  No announcement on the detail of closures will be made until after the Scottish Parliament & Local Government Elections.

The issue of the future of the rural post office network and postal services in general is due to be discussed at the Renewing Democracy and Community Planning Committee of Highland Council on 17th January 2007.