Saturday, 7 December 2013

Katy challenges UK Government over post offices

Katy Clark MP has called the UK Government to provide more of its services through the Post Office Network.

Last Wednesday (November 27) in the House of Commons, Ms Clark  questioned Jo Swinson MP, the Lib Dem Minister with responsibility for the Post Office, saying, “Will the Minister explain why… Government work undertaken by post offices has gone down by more than seven-percent over the past year?  Surely she should be doing more to get new work for the Post Office.

Ms Swinson replied, “The Honourable Lady is right that Government work is important for the Post Office.  As the Minister responsible for the Post Office, I am engaged in promoting and encouraging that.  Obviously, the Post Office must win work on its merits, and the environment is competitive.  Whether we are talking about the mail market, the retail market or bidding for Government work, a range of competitors would be more than happy to take some of the contracts.  It is a testament to the strength of the Post Office that, despite that strong competition, it has continued to win contract after contract, but I am in no doubt that bidding for that work on a more competitive basis creates significant pressures, particularly for some sub-postmasters.

Speaking later, Katy Clark said, “The Government took office claiming to strengthen the Post Office Network and saying post offices would become the ‘front house of government’.  Instead, it has introduced a number of detrimental changes such as the removal of the Core-Tier Payment, which provided a fixed income for post office branches, and it has privatised Royal Mail and separated it from the Post Office Network.  When pressing ahead with these harmful changes Ministers have repeatedly claimed they would be offset by the increased provision of Government services through local Post Offices.  They have spectacularly failed to deliver.”

The Labour MP for North Ayrshire & Arran added, “Unfortunately the Minister seems completely unwilling to take steps necessary to provide more Government services at Post Offices.  Alarmingly she seems to indicate that, in future, Post Offices could lose some of their mail market functions.  This cannot be allowed to happen.”

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