7% decrease in Post Office business in 2019
Postmasters have recently warned that hundreds of Post Offices in villages, towns and cities could close over the next two years if urgent action is not taken by the next Government. The Irish Postmasters’ Union (IPU) called for all parties and candidates to commit to a Public Service Obligation (PSO) being introduced for Post Offices, and also for many more Government services provided through the Network. IPU General Secretary Ned O’Hara said that Post Office business is declining year on year, with a 7% decrease in volumes transacted in Postmaster operated Offices in 2019. Hundreds of Offices are at a tipping point of viability.
“This election is critical for Post Offices. In order to maintain a Network, State support including a PSO will need to sanctioned. “Under a current Renewal Plan top up payments are temporarily being paid to the majority of Post Offices, as part of a new contract. However, these payments are due to run out in mid 2021. “The next Government must plan for this, or the Network faces collapse on a massive scale. We estimate that from 2021, 200 to 400 Post Offices in all areas of the country may become unviable and face closure,” Mr O’Hara said. There are currently 952 offices in the Post Office Network including 897 Postmaster run offices, 45 An Post company offices and ten temporary closures.
IPU Dublin Spokesperson Tony Wall said: “A pillar the 2018 Post Office Network Renewal Plan has not been delivered on by this Government. This was a commitment to delivering many new Government services via the Post Office. This has not happened to date and that needs to change with the next Government. “While new services will help to maximise the Network’s offering, it will not be enough to address the crisis expected in July 2021. It will not just be rural Offices that are at risk, but also a large number of urban offices who carry out a majority of Network transactions. If they were to close, it would have drastic consequences for the current Post Office business model. “The impending crisis of the Post Office Network needs to be an election issue with commitments given and inclusion of a PSO, and roll out of new services, in the next programme for Government,” Mr Wall said.