15 February 2006
Barrett attacks Government over latest Post Office let-down
John Barrett, Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West, today accused the Government of putting the long term viability of the Post Office network at risk by refusing to renew the Post Office card account (POCA) beyond 2010.
Liberal Democrat research has revealed that around 20,900 people use the Post Office card account across Edinburgh every week. Last week, the Department of Work and Pensions announced that it would not be renewing the contract for POCA beyond 2010.
Parliament was today debating this issue in Westminster.
Speaking following the debate, John Barrett said:
“Since I was elected as an MP I have seen Labour close almost 20 local post offices across Edinburgh, despite widespread public resistance. This latest decision further illustrates the Government’s willingness to undermine the long-term viability of our Post Office network.
“Across Edinburgh over 20,000 people use their local post office to collect their benefits through the POCA system. These people will be now deprived of this service and will have to make alternative arrangements to receive their benefits.
“Not only will this cause unnecessary inconvenience to many people, but it will clearly have a major impact on the viability of many post offices across the city, potentially leading to yet more closures.
“It is high time this Government woke-up to the importance of the Post Office network, not only in economic terms, but also for its vital community role. Post Offices act as a focal point for local communities, and yet this Government seems content to see the network crumble.
“Over the coming weeks I will be urging the Department of Work and Pensions to think again and, renew the contract for the card account after 2010.”
· 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.
· Therefore 355 x 59 = 20945
· As a result 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 will 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