To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, what assessment he has made of the impact of the network relocation programme on rural post offices.
The Government has committed nearly £2 billion since 2010 to maintain a network of at least 11,500 branches and to protect and modernise the network by 2018, securing its long-term sustainable future. The Post Office is continuing to meet strict access criteria that see, for example, 99% of the population living within three miles of a Post Office outlet.
The Post Office is also modernising and improving its national network, with thousands of branches benefiting from investment under the Government funded Network Transformation programme. To date over 3,300 post offices have already converted, to the new Local and Main models, delivering benefits to customers such as much longer opening hours and improved branch environments. In total, these modernised branches are providing over 85,000 additional opening hours a week; ensuring customers can access Post Office services at a time convenient to them.
Additionally, where a post office is “the last shop in the community”, which is the case in many rural communities, that branch is designated as a Community Branch, and is able to access and benefit from the £20 million Government funded Community Branch Fund.