Thank EU very much, say post offices
SUB postmasters today welcomed £450 million first aid package for rural post offices – but they urged people must take it upon themselves to use them.The cash injection – to be paid at £150m for each of the next three years – has been approved by the European Commission and it has been "gratefully received" by the National Federation of Sub Postmasters, said its regional secretary, Jon Richardson.
SUB postmasters today welcomed £450 million first aid package for rural post offices – but they urged people must take it upon themselves to use them.
The cash injection – to be paid at £150m for each of the next three years – has been approved by the European Commission and it has been "gratefully received" by the National Federation of Sub Postmasters, said its regional secretary, Jon Richardson.
Mr Richardson, sub postmaster at Reynolds Road, Ipswich, said: "It is very, very good news, anything that can be done to retain post offices especially those in rural locations is welcomed."
The £150 million a year will be used to maintain sub postmasters' incomes, fund services such as computer systems and develop innovative ways of delivering post.
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The aim is to help the loss-making Royal Mail keep open the country's 8,500 rural post offices.
Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt said: "This is great news for our rural post offices and the wider post office network. We can now get the money out of the door and into post offices.
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"The cash will provide a vital life line to rural communities and help ensure our post offices deliver the best possible services to the people they serve."
A Royal Mail spokeswoman said: "We are delighted that the European Commission has confirmed the financial support for our rural post offices.
"This is an important first step in helping us keep rural post office branches open so we can service customers in country areas.
"However the network still faces huge challenges. If local people want their post office branches to stay open, they need to use them."
Mr Richardson agreed with her, and added: "If customers could continue to collect their state benefits and pensions at post offices it would be enormously helpful.
"Letters sent out by the government are urging customers to have their child benefit and pensions paid directly in to their banks. If enough people do this more and post offices will close down."
Financial support will now be given to modernise the post office network, such as improving premises or locating post offices in businesses such as pubs or hairdressers.