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 office closures across the country.
The charity warns that the Post Office must increase the investment in rural locations to make sure communities across the country maintain connection to vital services.
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 and are open for an average of just five and a half hours a week.
Thirteen per cent (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
This 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.
One woman who was reliant on the post office for paying bills and topping up her energy meter reported moving house after the local post office shut and she was unable to afford the bus journey to the new one. Shortly after moving house the post office in her new village shut.
One man came to Citizens Advice as the ninety minute journey to his closest open post office meant he could only travel once a week. As a result he had to save up all his post and bills for one journey, meaning bills became overdue and he was fined by his utility companies.
Research undertaken by Citizens Advice found that certain groups are more reliant on post office services than others. Despite closures, when asked, 18 per cent of people said they still visited their post office weekly. This increased to 23 per cent of those living in rural areas, 27 per cent of carers, 22 per cent of over 65s, and 21 per cent of disabled people.
Clare Moriarty, the Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “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.”
Read Gaps in the network: Impact of outreaches and temporary closures on post office access here.
* Source: Citizens Advice