Post Office Network Business Development Group Report
On January 20th 2016, the Post Office Network Business Development Group Report was launched by Chairperson Bobby Kerr and the Minister for Communications Alex White. The Report – developed in consultation between the IPU, Government and An Post – sets out a blueprint for the serious challenges facing the Network, includes recommendations on how these can be addressed and has put in place two Working Groups to progress the issues.
The future of Ireland’s Post Office Network is a cross-party social and community issue and it is critical that all political parties, alliances and Independents are committed to a viable network. To progress the recommendations of the Bobby Kerr Chaired Report, two Working Groups have been established and have already commended work. They are expected to make significant progress by this summer.
Working Group 1: Network Renewal
The Network Renewal Working Group was established in February 2016 to ‘Develop a Five Year Strategy for the Network’. This group is being Chaired by Bobby Kerr and includes the Government, as shareholder, represented by the Departments of Communications and Social Protection, the Irish Postmasters’ Union and An Post.
The Group is overseen by the Minister for Communications, Alex White, and has authority to call on input from other Government Departments when relevant. The Group is due to Report by Autumn 2016. It is to deal with issues such as:
- Government support the Post Office Network as provider of choice for Social Protection payments (either in cash or epayment)
- A five year plan for the future size and distribution of the network
- Roll out of new government services business to Post Offices
- Roll out of a Post Office based epayment account
- Development and agreement on new Postmaster contracts.
In the current period of political uncertainty, the IPU is calling for continued oversight by the next Minister for Communications and constructive input from all Government Departments.
Working Group 2: Service Hubs
A parallel Working Group to ‘Develop a Nationwide Pilot of Post Office Service Hubs’ was also established in February 2016. The Group is to run a pilot programme for developing rural Post Offices as ‘Service Hubs’ which extend citizen access in rural areas to transport and health services.
The Group is Chaired by the Minister of State for Rural Economic Development, Ann Phelan, and includes representation from the Postmasters, relevant Government Departments and An Post. The group is aiming to have Pilots in place later this year.
On the establishment of a new Government, The IPU is calling for continued Chairing of the Group at Ministerial level and constructive input from all Government Departments.