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From Norfolk RCC
On the 20th of January Norfolk RCC met with Consumer Focus and other RCAN members to discuss issues effecting rural Post Offices
Post Office ltd’s current programme of network change will see 1 in 5 Sub-Post Offices converted to the new Post Office Local model and it is likely this will be the direction for all small branches in the future. In the immediate term a conversation programme of 2,000 is planned, not including those that re-open as Post Office Locals that closed through natural network change (retirement etc).
Under the current code of conduct since a conversation of a Sub-Post Office to a Post Office Local is an internal business change there is unlikely to be any community consultation. This is different to the well publicised network change programme that took place between 2007 and 2009 that saw the closure of approximately 2,500 branches.
Whilst Post Office Locals may have extended opening hours within their host business they also usually have a reduced product range.
The business model for the Post Office Local is also radically different. It relies on cash from the host business to provide Post Office services and remuneration is structured on a commission only basis with no core payments.
This can provide a number of challenges:
- Many rural shops rely on core payments form the Post Office to support the operation of the shop. Although converting Post Offices will receive payments to ease the difference in income, units that shut and reopen with another operator will not.
- There are also reports that in certain instances the reliance on the host businesses cash can result in cash-capping. This is where for example the host can only pay out on part of a withdrawal because of the limited physical cash on the premises.
If you have a Post Office Local in your community and are having difficulties please let us know. Also it may be worth engaging with your local Sub-Post Master to find out if a conversion is planned.
You may find the following Consumer First reports interesting: