MP’s pledge to back the Post Office

Gavin Strang addresses the Federation of Subpostmasters and Subpostmistresses
Gavin Strang MP tonight addresses the Edinburgh and Lothian members of the National Federation of Subpostmasters and Postmistresses about their concerns about the move to pay pensions and benefits through the banks. The meeting is at 7.30pm in Edinburgh’s Old Waverley Hotel. Extracts from Gavin Strang’s speech follow:

‘It is the local Post Offices in the less well-off urban areas that are most at risk from the move towards paying pensions and social security benefits through the banks.

‘There has also been a lot of focus on the threat to rural Post Offices. In many villages the Post Office is the only shop for miles. Many people depend on these outlets – it is vital that they survive.

‘I am sure that the Government is now determined to secure the future for the local post office.

‘The Prime Minister has asked the Performance and Innovation Unit of the Cabinet Office to look at the future of the network, and has requested to meet with the General Secretary of the National Federation of Subpostmasters and Postmistresses. The Government has introduced legislation as a safeguard to allow a subsidy to be paid if it is needed.

‘And in urban deprived areas, the government is considering ways to provide special assistance which would allow subpostmasters and subpostmistresses to improve the quality of both the post office and the retail sides of their businesses.

‘The question now is how to deliver this shared vision of a thriving, modern post office network.

‘I see three major opportunities for the Post Office.

· The Post Office as the Government’s local deliverer. The local post office should be an access point for people for as many government services as possible.

· The Post Office must take advantage of the opportunity of Information Technology. Perhaps people could go to their local post office to access the internet, and to order and pay for goods.

· Thirdly, we must broaden the range of commercial services offered to people at their local post office. The Post Office has already won banking business from the Coop Bank, LloydsTSB and Barclays. The Government is also very keen that the Post Office develop a Universal Bank.

‘We must ensure this country has a thriving network of local post offices.
‘I pledge that I will do all that I can to help.’