'Higher charges will increase viability of local post offices'

West Cornwall MP Derek Thomas has welcomed the introduction of improved charges to postmasters for handling bank transactions.

The Banking Framework, agreed in 2017, allows 95% of business and 99% of personal banking customers to withdraw money, deposit cash and cheques and check balances at 11,500 Post Office branches in the UK.

Now, from the start of October, Post Office Ltd has increased the charges that postmasters will get for handling deposits – typically about three times what they have been receiving.

“This is certainly a step in the right direction,” said Mr Thomas.

“It is in everybody’s interest to have a viable post office network and especially in rural areas where the post office is often a real lifeline for elderly and vulnerable people who otherwise might have little contact with the outside world.

“A year ago, the industry average charge to a business depositing £1,000 in a local post office branch was £10, but the postmaster only received 24p for the transaction, and so I am very glad that the charges are moving in the right direction.

“I would also urge people to use their local post office as often as possible for banking transactions as this will also increase sub-postmasters’ income.”

Since first being elected in 2015, Mr Thomas has worked with the National Federation of Postmasters (NFSP) and Post Office Ltd to find ways to ensure the future viability of post offices.

Last year he contacted 10,000 constituents, seeking their support in calling on the Government and Post Office Ltd a) to make sure that sub-postmasters have a viable business, b) to force banks to pay sub-postmasters a fair price for their services, and c) to increase the services available to rural post office branches.

Later in the year, during a Westminster debate he led on rural post offices, Mr Thomas was able to tell the Post Office Minister, Kelly Tolhurst MP, that he had received more than 1,700 responses to this campaign, “a greater response than to any other campaign than to any previous local campaign and shows how important the issue is to my rural constituency”. 

Stuart Rogers, the NFSP’s South West director, said: “The NFSP greatly values Derek’s contribution in helping to access Government ministers for dialogue and debate and he continues to work with us to create a plan across Government that ensures sub-post offices have a bright future.”

A Remunerations Review is currently underway which is looking at other areas where the work of sub-postmasters can be recognised and rewarded.