Monday, 7 April 2008
Post Offices Again
On March the 19th The Conservatives used one of it's opposition day debates to call a vote on suspending the current Network Change [i.e. To close 2500 offices].
The vote failed by 288 to 268 with 20 Labour MPs rebelling.
The Tories were largely mischief making, aiming to highlight the hypocricy of around 90 Labour MPs who campaigned against closure of offices in their constituencies while actually supporting the Government on the network closure plans. They were mostly successful in this aim.
The reality is The Government, Post Office ltd, Royal mail, many Sub-postmaster and the NFSP [ the post office union] are all happy with the reduction in the number of offices. It is said that this will allow Royal Mail to reduce current losses by £45 million and also let 'breadline' post offices close with adequate compensation.
The real issue though is the Post Office Card Account [POCA]. This is the card used by pensioners, claimants etc to collect their money from the post office. Having tried desperately to scrap this card since its introduction in 2003, and having failed, the government agreed to extend its life until 2010 when a successor card will be introduced.
Post Office ltd has submitted a tender for the new account along with several other strong competitors. The deadline for bids was 31st March 2008.
Seeing as the POCA generates some £200 million for the company and accounts for 10 - 15% of individual post office revenues, a failure to win the bid would be catastrophic for the entire network. The further level of closures that would ensue would be equal to or greater than the current program; perhaps another 3000 - 4000 offices.
Even retaining the card is no guarantee of viability but to lose it... unthinkable for Post Office Limited.
If MPs wanted to do more than posture and pay lip service to their local people, then this is the issue they should be addressing.
Posted by CityUnslicker