The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) says government strategy on Post Offices lacks direction. The organisation has urged the Government to come up with a long-term, coherent strategy for a sustainable Post Office network.
In its response to the Department of Trade & Industry's consultation on the future of the Post Office network, the FSB called on the government to consider the social and economic impact of proposals to close up to 2,500 Post Offices.
The FSB believes that the current policy of subsidising the Post Office network while simultaneously depriving it of the services it offers to customers is unsustainable and demonstrates a lack of strategic overview and joined up thinking at central government level.
Clive Davenport, FSB Trade and Industry Chairman, said, "The Government needs to come up with a sustainable, long-term plan for the Post Office network otherwise it is in danger of sleepwalking into a crisis for local communities.
"We recognise the need for the network to be restructured, but there needs to be a much greater understanding of the impact on the economy and local communities of widespread Post Office closures.
"Small businesses generate over half of UK GDP and many of them rely on the Post Office for a variety of services. Their future and that of the communities they sustain needs to be carefully considered."
In its consultation response submitted on Thursday 8 March 2007, the FSB called for:
- The social cost of the proposed Post Office closures to be fully evaluated and taken into account;
- An expansion of the services that Post Offices can offer. For example, making high street banking services available through Post Offices and examining the role of local authorities;
- Consultation at a local level to be extended from six weeks to at least 12 weeks, in line with the Cabinet Office's Code of Practice. This would ensure that a larger number of local people and business owners can put forward their views.
- The impact of rural Post Office closures on congestion and the environment to be considered.
- A clear and sustainable plan for the long-term future of the Post Office network.
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