To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, how many of the 41 Crown post offices in dedicated premises that are earmarked to be franchised and relocated to WHSmith have Applicant Enrolment Identification (AEI) machines; and how many of the AEI machines will be relocated to the franchisee’s stores with the post office counter.
The Government recognises the critical role that post offices play in communities and for small businesses across the UK. This is why the Government committed to safeguard the post office network and protect existing rural services. The overall number of post offices across the UK remains at its most stable in decades with over 11,500 branches thanks to significant Government investment of over £2 billion since 2010.
While the Government sets the strategic direction for the Post Office, it allows the company the commercial freedom to deliver this strategy as an independent business. The distribution of branches is an operational matter of commercial judgement for Post Office management team. I have therefore asked Paula Vennells, the Group Chief Executive of Post Office Limited, to write to the hon Member on this matter. A copy of her reply will be placed in the Libraries of the House.