February 17, 2020:
Public want to see more services at their local Post Office
The vast majority of people (86%) favour Government financial support to keep their Post Office open and would like to see more State services becoming available.
91% said their Post Office provided a valuable service to the local community, 86% support the Government providing financial support to keep their Post Office open and 86% want more State services available at their Post Office.
Support was strongest among older people and outside of Dublin. However, it was shared across all age and social groupings – with in excess of 80% of young people wanting action to maintain their Post Office.
The Irish Postmasters’ Union (IPU) welcomed the findings and it said gave a clear message to the next Government.
IPU General Secretary Ned O’Hara said: “the IPU has commissioned a major report to cost and recommend a system for the introduction of a Public Service Obligation (PSO) for the Post Office Network. The detailed findings and recommendations will be published in the coming months.”
“It is critical that the next Government is from the outset clearly committed to a Post Office PSO, and the expansion of services. This research shows that this is what the public wants Government to do,” he said.
The Post Office Network continues to be Ireland’s largest retail and face-to-face service Network. It is at the heart of over 950 communities serving approximately 1.5 million customers each week.
However, business across the Network is falling by 6-7% per annum and many are at the brink of viability. Changes in the delivery of social welfare payments is the major reason for reducing business.
Currently, support payments are being made to most Post Offices as part of a new contract introduced in 2018. However, these are to end in 2021 and the IPU fears hundreds of closures if a PSO is not delivered within 12 months.
IPU President Seán Martin said the contribution to local economies and social value which Post Offices bring is far in excess of the level which a PSO is likely to be – and letting the Network collapse would prove far more costly.
“Post Offices have a central role to play in future economic and civic regeneration in villages, towns and urban communities. In the past two years, new financial and banking services have been successfully introduced working with An Post, and Postmasters have extended opening hours to meet customer needs.
“All State services, which are transacted over the counter, should become available in all Post Offices such as Motor Tax payments, Driving Licences, Passports, Public Service Card renewals, identity verification and admin for Departments.
“For example, the Road Safety Authority is about to go to tender for the national Driving Licence service, and the network could extend accessibility of Driving Licence services for citizens,” Mr. Martin said.
There are currently 952 offices in the Post Office Network including 897 Postmaster run offices, 45 An Post company offices and ten temporary closures.
Ronan Cavanagh, Cavanagh Communications: (086) 317 9731.