House of Lords Select Committee on the Rural Economy - Citizens Advice response to call for evidence
Post office are widely used by both individuals and small businesses, particularly in rural areas. Post offices currently make a significant contribution to local economies and the community wellbeing. Our evidence shows that:
1. Post offices need to remain open and local. Post offices are extensively used by almost all individuals and small businesses, and proximity is crucial. The Government’s £370m funding to support the post office network between April 2018 and March 2021 is welcome, but the Government and Post Office Ltd must continue to ensure the post office network retains its wide geographic spread.
2. Post offices should continue to offer a wide range of services. The range of services are valued by consumers, including postal, banking, government and community services. Whilst many services are moving online, face-to-face access remains important particularly for older people and many of the more vulnerable members of society.
3. The Government or the UK finance industry should commission research to assess consumer access to and satisfaction of banking services at post offices. There is an increasing reliance on post offices for day-to-day community banking services, but Citizens Advice and other stakeholders have raised concerns about the suitability of post offices in providing these services. It is important to identify and address any issues around performance and service standards and to better understand customer journeys, before raising awareness of banking at post offices.
4. The Post Office should should make it easier to set up a community-run post office. Community-run post offices can play important roles filling gaps in service provision and Post Office Ltd should make improvements to the application process to make it easier for community-run groups to apply to run and set up a post office.