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Apr 4, 2023 |

NFSP Communications Team

The NFSP met with PO and the Postal Minister on Wednesday 29 March for the newly-restarted Working Group.  The first item to be discussed was the oversight of PO, of which the importance of Government involvement was underlined to the Minister, given the arm’s length approach the government had taken over problems raised regarding Horizon in the past. The purpose of the Working Group is to enable the Government as the shareholder, PO as the operator and the NFSP as the representative of investing Postmasters, to work together for a viable future network.

The current Royal Mail negotiations and strikes, past and possibly to come, were raised, and how they had impacted Postmaster remuneration, and how recent press speculation was a concern to the future viability of the network. The Government are keen to ensure the sustainability of the network given the taxpayers money paid into Post Office. POL raised that more couriers and carriers were being looked into to ensure customers did not go elsewhere every time there is a RM strike. The NFSP were able to state member approval of this via results from the remuneration survey. PO stated they were in the final stages of completing the new Mails Strategy, which addressed the diversification needed within the sector.

The reduced banking deposits were raised, with the Minister ensuring both parties that he was keen to see a solution asap. The NFSP were advised that a Banking Roundtable was scheduled for Friday, with banks currently limiting deposits asked to bring solutions to the current limit.

Drop & Collect (D&C) models were raised by the NFSP including how the D&C contract does not include the Restrictions Policy found in a standard Postmaster contract, which was last amended in 2005. This difference was highlighted as giving the ‘light touch’ models an unfair advantage, therefore a request to change the contract was made. POL will come back to us on this issue.

The 250 proposed D&C models do not count towards the access criteria, however the understanding that an office cannot be located within half a mile of an existing post offices is only an understanding, as POL have not signed an agreement on this. The NFSP raised that a number of our members were concerned about this and asked for a Terms of Reference to be written and agreed upon. This would then allow us to challenge PO on behalf of our members and/or monitor D&Cs located near existing offices. The NFSP is concerned about the decline in the number of full-time, full service offices that are now open, and want a commitment that D&C cannot be used to replace an office that has closed.

Finally, the NFSP raised the issue of finding a solution regarding Hard to Place (HtP) offices. An offer has been made by PO to the existing offices, of which the NFSP wholeheartedly rejects. The offer has been agreed upon by the POL Board, including the Postmaster Non-Executive Directors.

The NFSP would like to thank members for sending through questions via the monthly survey to be asked at the Working Group. We were able to use some of the points raised within discussions and let the Postal Minister know about concerns directly from postmasters.