7 April 2006
Barrett launches major new Post Office campaign
John Barrett, Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West, has today launched a major new campaign to save the Post Office Card Account (POCA) after the Government admitted it is planning to axe the scheme.
The card account was the means by which the Government would meet its guarantee that pensioners would continue to be able to draw their pension in cash at their local post office following the withdrawal of payment books. However last month the Government announced it would not be renewing the scheme after 2010.
Mr Barrett has today written to SubPostmasters across Edinburgh West asking them to participate in a new petition campaign calling on the government to support the POCA scheme beyond 2010. (See Notesfor details)
John Barrett said:
“I feel very strongly that the Government have betrayed sub postmasters and their customers. It is estimated that over 20,000 people across Edinburgh use the card account every week. Clearly, the loss of the scheme will hit many Post Offices hard.
“Since I was elected as an MP I have seen Labour close almost 20 local post offices across Edinburgh despite widespread public resistance. We simply cannot afford to see yet more closures.
“Post Offices provide an important focal point for local communities. However this Government seems intent on making it harder and harder for Post Offices to operate as viable businesses.
“It is high time that the Government stopped taking liberties with our Post Offices. Hopefully, a strong response from the public to this campaign will force the Government to rethink its plans.”
· Petitions will be stocked in Post Offices across Edinburgh West subject to approval from SubPostmasters. The petitions can be filled in by Post Office customers and will be returned to Mr Barrett’s constituency office. Each petition urges Mr Barrett to contact the SoS for Work and Pensions and DTI.
· Full details of the petition text:
Dear John Barrett MP
The Government promised that pensioners and those claiming benefits would still be able to collect their cash at their local post office using the Post Office Card Account. Now the Government has let down local post offices and pensioners by announcing plans to phase out card accounts by 2010.
Please write to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions asking that the Government keep its promise to help maintain the Post Office network and keep the Post office Card Account beyond 2010.
Please also write to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry asking that the Government recognise the vital role played by post offices in communities and to take action to ensure the long term future of local post offices.· There are 59 Post offices in the EH post code area.
· Answers to Parliamentary Questions have revealed that across Scotland each post office branch has an average of up to 355 customers per week collecting their benefits through their Post Office card account.
· 355 x 59 = 20945
· 20,945 people use the post office card account every week across Edinburgh
· Four million people have chosen to use the Post Office card account, and it is expected to generate more than £1 billion in income for Post Offices over the period 2003-2010.
· John Barrett has been running a long term campaign opposing Post Office closures across Edinburgh since 2002