Local Post offices in jeopardy

Posted on: 7th October 2018

Since the 2015 General Election scores of local post offices have faced the threat of closure. This is not merely a coincidence. It has everything to do with a Conservative Government which backtracked on a deal agreed when they were forced by their Liberal Democrat partners to accept reasonable protections for our vital rural post offices.

Locally concerns have been raised and uncertainty remains about post office services in The Lizard, Newlyn, Leedstown, St Keverne, Porthleven, Mullion and many more.

Since the 2015 General Election Liberal Democrats have not been there to ensure the Conservatives honoured the previously agreed financial support for the post office. If the Government
continues as it has done since 2015 we’ll lose many more much valued local post offices.

I fear locals who are concerned about post office services have been misled by the local Tory MP about what’s actually been happening. After all it’s political decisions by the Conservatives in Westminster which has undermined the viability of our post offices.

I attach a copy of an independent House of Commons research paper which provides valuable background information on what’s ACTUALLY going on.

The truth is the Government (which your local MP loyally supports) has slashed funding for village post offices. I fear that no one will want to run a sub post office if they discover that they’re expected to effectively run the business as volunteers. The research document shows that:

· The Post Office network subsidy was £130million in 2015 but has been slashed to about £46m.

· The last estimate of Post master/mistress pay showed a quarter of them took NO pay at all – effectively doing the job as volunteers; the average pay was just £750 a month.

· There’s a requirement that 99% of rural people are within 3 miles of an operational post office branch, but the Government has now manipulated this by interpreting it as an “as the crow flies” measure!

During the Coalition (2010-2015) Liberal Democrats pressed the Conservatives to agree to protect post offices. The then Government agreed to formalise the separation of Royal Mail from the Post Office. Royal
Mail’s massive unfunded pension liability meant there was virtually no option but to sell shares in it. But this was agreed to allow the Conservatives to sell off part of Royal Mail on the basis of a number of conditions, one of which was that the Post Office network would be retained and supported.

Like so much else, we didn’t expect the protections we put in place for post offices would last long if the Conservatives governed alone. We can now see that they dramatically changed the policy as soon as they had the opportunity.

Just like misleading announcements of more money for NHS and record school funding the Conservatives have made much of the announcement earlier this year of £370 million for the post office. But that figure is actually a CUT in the funding level previously agreed and most of it goes to the Post Office centrally anyway. Perhaps best to read pages 9 & 10 of the attached.

So let’s get real about what needs to be done. We need a change of Government policy or better still a change of Government. It’s not about MPs putting out cards in his attempt to harvest emails. It’s not about him claiming to be on their side but doing nothing about it when he gets to Westminster.