New Citizens Advice analysis reveals 206 post offices have closed in the last two years, the equivalent of two closing each week. The consumer watchdog for the postal sector warns of a wave of Post Offices lost due to closures across the country.
Further analysis of Post Office data reveals:
- 1,291 Post Offices are currently deemed ‘temporarily closed’, but almost six in ten of these have been shut for more than two years
- One in three rural post offices are now offered as part-time outreach services, open for an average of just five and a half hours a week.
- Thirteen percent (totalling 233) of outreaches are open for only one hour a week, and one outreach the charity found was only open for ten minutes a week
The Post Offices lost due to closures has led to huge gaps in the service. People have reported to the charity that they now spend more time and money accessing post office services, feel a loss of independence, and even increased isolation since their local office was shut.
Research undertaken by Citizens Advice found that certain groups are more reliant on post office services than others. Despite closures, when asked, 18% of people said they still visited their post office weekly. This increased to 23% of those living in rural areas, 27% of carers, 22% of over 65s, and 21% of disabled people.
Whilst we have every sympathy for those that rely on their Post Office for services ranging from banking to bill paying, the concern for marketplace sellers has to be with shipping parcels. For many, the Post Office is the only option that they are aware of but there are alternatives. For instance the number of parcel booking services has grown enormously in recent years plus the more recent addition of being able to have a parcel or letter collected by Royal Mail for a 60p fee. Plus most couriers today enable you to book a collection directly on their booking site at reasonably competitive rates.
“Post offices sit at the centre of our communities. They help many small businesses thrive, stop already isolated communities being cut off entirely, and enable people to carry out essential tasks, like paying bills. But they’re at breaking point. We’re currently losing two post offices a week, and outreach services often aren’t an adequate replacement. Maintaining post office investment is crucial or the service will never keep pace with the needs of the communities it’s intended to serve.”– Dame Clare Moriarty, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice