All Government TDs
27th March 2015
Department of Social Protection Campaign to drive customers away from the Post Office Network
I refer to the current campaign by the Department of Social Protection aimed at driving customers away from the Post Office Network and into the arms of the commercial banks.
This move pushes the cost of delivering welfare payments on to the consumer and can only be described as a ‘Stealth Tax’.
On the one hand the Government is supporting the current Post Office Business Development Group, being chaired by entrepreneur Bobby Kerr, and on the other the Department of Social Protection is writing to people to divert them away from using the Post Office.
The Programme for Government states that “the Government will:
- Ensure a strong, viable post office network, which reaches into every community in Ireland and which properly remunerates all those involved in it.
- Develop An Post as a top-class financial services entity to help in that aim.
- Ensure that as many Government services as possible operate through the post office network.”
The letters currently being sent out from the Department of Social Protection (DSP) clearly show that the Government has no commitment to the Post Office Network and is, in fact, actively directing our customers towards the commercial banks.
The inevitable result of this DSP campaign will be the mass closure of Post Offices as outlined in The Grant Thornton Report and the consequent economic effect on local communities.
We are asking you, as a Government TD, to act immediately to ensure the sustainability of your local Post Office and the continued support of your local Postmasters.
We ask you to implement the following 6 point Action Plan to sustain the Post Office Network and to support our local communities.
- Recognise the Post Office Network as a National Asset and ensure its future by making it the provider of choice and the front office for all Government services such as Motor Tax, Hospital Charges, Local Authority Payments etc.
- Secure the role of Post Offices in delivering Department of Social Protection (DSP) payments either through cash and / or direct electronic payment and maintain the existing rates.
- Provide funding for a Standard Bank Account through the Post Office Network to ensure financial inclusion for all.
- Quantify the social role which Post Offices provide and the onus on the State to provide equality for citizens under Article 45 of the Constitution.
- Instruct An Post to immediately cease any action, in relation to Post & Pay, which could be construed as establishing an alternative Network.
- Carry out a comprehensive commercial review of the Network to ensure viability for the foreseeable future (5-7 Years).
Postmasters and the communities they serve feel threatened by the current DSP campaign and the Irish Postmasters’ Union earnestly requests your urgent support. I enclose a copy of the DSP letter for your information.