Citizens Advice is warning about the future of 3,000 community branches as they face losing financial support. These important post offices are often the last shop in the village and provide essential services. Government funding is due to end in 2021.
The charity is calling for continued funding of community post offices as they play a vital role in serving rural communities. Post offices also ensure people have face-to-face access to key post, government and financial services such as receiving their pension or renewing a driving licence.
Citizens Advice is the statutory consumer advocate for postal services. As part of its role, the charity reviewed the Network Transformation Programme, part of a £2 billion government funding package, which aimed to restructure the post office network and ensure its financial sustainability.
The charity’s review concluded that the programme has achieved its objective as the number of post offices has remained stable and every part of the country is covered. Many branches have been refurbished and some offer improved disabled access and longer opening times. However, it also reports an increasing proportion of branches are operating as part-time outreach offices.
Without ongoing financial support, Citizens Advice warns post offices are at risk of closure and reduced services.
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:
“Community post offices are often the last shop in the village and provide services not found elsewhere.
“While the government’s transformation programme of the post office network has kept the number of post offices stable for now, we’re concerned fewer government services are being provided.
“Government funding is due to end in 2021 – we’re calling for the continued financial support of these branches so the post office network is fit for the future.”