ANGUS MP Mike Weir is backing the campaign by the National Federation of Sub Postmasters (NFSP) to help secure more government work for post offices.
Post Office Ltd is currently bidding for the new 10-year DVLA contract which would provide income of around £60 million a year to the network. The NFSP say this income would help maintain other essential post office services, and provide a ‘framework contract’ which could lead to further government work for post offices.
The move comes shortly after a report from the House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Committee criticised the inflexibility of the UK Government’s proposals for the future of post offices and the lack of a programme for delivering government services.
The report said: “Both central and local government speak warm words about delivering government services through the Post Office, yet such additional government services - with the accompanying extra revenue for the Post Office - has yet to materialise.”
The report warned that reforms could leave one in five post offices ‘unsustainable or unsuitable.’
SNP Postal Affairs spokesperson Mike Weir MP commented: “The DVLA contract is an important step for the sustainability of the post office network at a time when UK government reforms are giving further cause for concern.
“We all want to see a secure future for post offices, but they must be able to provide a range of government services - including driving licenses, tax discs and passport services - and not just be shop fronts.
“Recently a member of my own staff went to renew his driving licence at the main post office in Arbroath but was told they did not do the service and he would have to go to either Forfar or Dundee.
“Plans to downgrade many branches to ‘post office local’ could undermine the long term viability of small post offices, cutting back important provisions for communities and hurting the most vulnerable citizens the most. The plans will also damage small businesses by removing access to manual cash deposit and withdrawals and important parcel services.”
Mr Weir concluded: “The coalition has pledged to use post offices as the ‘front office for government’, so they must deliver on this pledge and improve the range of services available in the local post office.
“The DVLA contract is an important first step in protecting the future of the network. I support the National Federation of Sub-Postmasters in their action to back the bid.”