Bobby Kerr led group to begin work on future of Post Offices
Postmasters have called for securing Post Offices’ role in delivering social welfare payments to be the top priority of a special group which begins work tomorrow (Wed, Jan 28) on the future of Post Offices.
The Post Office Business Development Group is being independently chaired by entrepreneur and former Dragon’s Den judge Bobby Kerr and includes representatives from the Irish Postmasters’ Union (IPU), An Post and the Government.
The group was announced by Government last month to explore how more business can be delivered through Post Offices, to prevent large numbers of Offices from closing.
The IPU, which represents 1,100 Postmasters, welcomed the process and said the key focus of the group’s work should be on securing the payment of social welfare through Post Offices as this accounts for 30% of all Post Office business.
In recent years Government has been changing welfare payments to direct electronic transfer. 50% of payments are now made outside of the Post Office and this is threatening the viability of hundreds of smaller Offices.
IPU General Secretary Ned O’Hara said that Bobby Kerr, An Post and the Government must work to address how Post Offices can continue to be critical to the delivery of social welfare in an era of direct electronic transfer. “The IPU will be putting forward the idea of establishing a Post Office payments account which welfare recipients can use,” he said.
IPU President Ciarán McEntee said the group must recognise the important social role which Post Offices provide and the strong public support for keeping Offices open.
“Post Offices are at the heart of the community. If an Office closes, this is very often followed by other local business closures and the whole community looses out. This group must take a wide view and support communities by giving certainly to the future of Post Offices.”
The Business Development Group is due to issue a preliminary report by the end of March. IPU members will monitor progress and anxiously be awaiting constructive proposals.
Additional services which Postmasters are keen to deliver include: A basic banking / payments account, Motor Tax renewals, Driver Licence renewals, Local Authority payments, lodgements and withdrawals for Credit Unions, hospital charges, electronic form generation, insurance quotations and pension savings.
The Post Office Network
- Post Offices are the largest retail network in the country with 1,150 Offices, employing 3,700 people
- 1,100 of these Offices are operated by Postmasters who are locally based SMEs providing employment, facilitating economic activity and providing community engagement
- A world class IT system is in place in all Offices, with the smallest rural Offices technically capable of providing the same services as the GPO in Dublin.
Ronan Cavanagh, Cavanagh Communications: (086) 317 9731.