Oversight of the Post Office Network Change Programme: Fifty-third Report of Session 2008-09 - Report, Together with Formal Minutes, Oral and Written Evidence - HC Session 2008-09, 832 (Paperback)
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In 2007, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and Post Office Ltd agreed a GBP 1.7 billion strategy to make the network financially sustainable, including a GBP 150 million annual subsidy. One element of this plan was the Network Change Programme whereby up to 2,500 post office branches were to be closed. The Programme was expected initially to cost GBP 176 million, mainly in compensation to sub-postmasters. Annual savings of GBP 45 million were forecast but the Programme was expected to generate a GBP 17 million loss in the 2006-07 to 2010-11 period of the strategic plan. The decision as to the number of post offices to be closed focused principally on the size and spread of the network that could be obtained for a particular level of funding. The series of undertakings designed to protect post office users during the closure programme were largely met. Criticism of the local consultation phase of the programme included: too little time had been allowed for consultation; the decisions had already been made; and, the public were not being listened to properly. A large proportion of the benefits of the programme and the annual savings are not being separately monitored. The Department is taking action to monitor the service delivered by the post office network, which is important in ensuring that the network provides value for money and informing future strategic decisions. However, there are presently some gaps in this monitoring, particularly around the impacts of closures and setting national standards of quality of service.
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