Irish Postmasters’ Union Annual Conference 2021
Government Report should include fixed State payment for Post Offices
Postmasters have called for an upcoming Government Report to include a long-term funding solution for the Post Office Network, in advance of their Annual Conference this weekend.
The Irish Postmasters’ Union (IPU) said the Network should be secured through a retainer type fixed Government payment, as recommended by business advisors Grant Thornton.
A report by the Government’s Interdepartmental Group for the Delivery of Offline Services is imminent and expected to address many of the issues faced by the Post Office Network.
On the eve of the Union’s 2021 Annual Conference General Secretary Ned O’Hara said; “the only way to ensure the survival of the Post Office Network is through a retainer type of fixed Government payment – and this is what the IPU is urging the Interdepartmental Group report to recommend.
“A State retainer would be paid in return for the universal provision of new and future Government services being available to all citizens at their local Post Office.”
Such a funding structure was recommended in an independent report by Grant Thornton into the economic contribution and financial sustainability of the Network, published in September 2020.
The Grant Thornton Report, commissioned by the IPU, concluded that the Post Office Network has a social value of €344-776m per annum, and requires immediate financial support to ensure its survival.
It recommended an annual State retainer of €17m, which it said would represent strong overall value for money for the country.
Mr O’Hara said: “Failure, by this Government, to act now will result in the current level of permanent Post Office closures, accelerating to unrestrained levels from July 2022.”
The IPU set out this argument in its submission to the Interdepartmental Group.
IPU President Seán Martin said the social value of the Network has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic and that the recent HSE cyber-attack heightened the need for a reliable offline service for core social, communications and financial infrastructure.
Calling for a long-term funding solution to be set out in the Interdepartmental Group report Mr Martin said: “the Network facilitates an annual injection of €4.6bn in welfare cash payments into local economies, provides services to 1.3m customers every week and reduces carbon footprint by making services available locally.”
The Union is calling for a range of Government services to be made available throughout the Network including:
- Provider of choice and the front office for ALL Government Services – ‘The State on your Doorstep’
- Post Offices, rather than commercial financial institutions, should be the default payment option for all Government services
- Motor Tax payment. Although this service is predominantly online, the provision of the service has become an indicator of Government intention towards the Network.
- Identity and verification services including the Electoral Register and Public Service Cards.
- Printing of all Government forms on a ‘Just in Time’ basis
- Facilitating the completion of ‘on-line’ Government application forms.
- Mandating the residual Pandemic Unemployment Payment for collection at Post Offices as a control measure to reduce the risk of fraud.
Ronan Cavanagh, Cavanagh Communications: (086) 317 9731.