MPs must come clean – their policy will close more post offices
It’s time Conservative MPs came clean with local people about their real policy towards the our post offices. If the Government carries on as it is we’ll lose many more much valued local post offices.
Many local people in communities like The Lizard and Newlyn are worried about the future of their services, and rightly so. But the cause is the policies of the very MPs who are being invited to show sympathy and support.
It’s no good MPs turning up at public meetings to court public support, furrow their brows and offer tea and sympathy. The truth is they support a Government which has slashed support for village post offices. No one will want to do the job if they’re effectively doing it on a voluntary basis.
If Conservative MPs are turning up at public events claiming they support local post office campaigns, I hope they start with an apology and a promise they’ll go back to Westminster to vote against the Government’s post office cuts.
· The Post Office network subsidy was £130million in 2015 but has been slashed to about £46m until 2021.
· 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 Conservatives have manipulated this by interpreting it as an “as the crow flies” measure!
In the Coalition (2010-2015) Liberal Democrats pressed the Conservatives to agree to protect post offices. The then Government agreed to separate Royal Mail from the Post Office. Royal Mail’s massive unfunded pension liability meant there was virtual no option but to sell shares in it. But this was agreed only 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.
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Further useful information in the attached House of Commons Library Briefing The Post Office Jan 2018