SUBPOSTMASTERS from the South East will gather at their annual conference next week to call on Postal Affairs Minister Norman Lamb to start delivering on the government’s commitment to put more work though the post office network.
The National Federation of SubPostmasters (NFSP) conference will send a clear message that its members are best placed to offer a wide range of national and local government services, essential to safeguard the future of the network and to fulfil ministers’ promise to use the post office network as the ‘front office for government’.
Mr Lamb, who will address members at the conference, will hear calls for a new DVLA contract to be awarded to the post office when it goes out to tender in the summer.
The contract would renew existing motor vehicle licensing work at the post office but would also deliver additional DVLA services from post office counters.
The call will come as the long awaited Network Transformation Programme gets underway, backed by £1.34bn in government funding – the largest investment in the network’s history.
The NFSP is supportive of the three-year restructuring and investment programme, which will ensure the national network remains at its current size but which will create 4,000 new Main post offices and 2,000 new Local post offices, alongside 5,500 branches remaining the same.
However, NFSP General Secretary George Thomson will tell the conference in Torquay that new government work is essential for the transformation to succeed.
He said, “The time has come for this coalition government to stop talking and start delivering new work and contracts for our members, such as the forthcoming DVLA contract, which will build on the solid foundation created by the transformation programme.
“The post office is perfectly placed to become a physical interface between all levels of government and the public, generating more work for subpostmasters and saving money for national and local government.
“There is no doubt that the transformation and funding package, which we have fought hard for, will create a more sustainable post office network.
“Without the funding, the network would change anyway through subpostmasters being forced to hand in their keys resulting in unplanned closures.
“The country simply cannot afford the current 11,500 traditional post offices and we therefore need the new models, which will maintain a post office service in the heart of our communities but will reduce operating costs for Post Office Ltd and for the subpostmaster. However, the government must make good on its promise of more work and help subpostmasters build a viable future.”
Key government and local authority services – from identity checking and extra DVLA applications to bill payments and even the sale of local travel and leisure tickets – could all be delivered in post offices. The NFSP conference, to start on May 21, will also hear a keynote speech from Paula Vennells, Chief Executive of Post Office Ltd (POL).