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NFSP National Call Summary – Wednesday 16 November 

Nov 17, 2022 |

NFSP Communications Team

On Wednesday, November 16, the NFSP held an urgent call to outline and provide support to our members regarding the current issues that the network is facing. 

The meeting was presented by NFSP CEO, Calum Greenhow and Non-Executive Directors Christine Donnelly and Sue Jude answering questions. 

The two key issues that we wanted to highlight were  

  • Reduced banking deposit limits  
  • Energy bill relief scheme  

The purpose was to explain what the NFSP are doing to support the network with these issues and how you as postmasters can help bring about change.  

There were some very insightful and heartfelt questions and answers raised during the meeting that we would also like to share in case you are in a similar position and need advice. We will also announce the poll results that took place during the meeting.  

The first issue discussed was the reduced banking deposit limit; this is a real concern, and we understand the frustration you all feel because of this. Due to the time it takes to count the cash and is frustrating to both you and the customer if they cannot deposit the cash because they have reached the recently imposed limit. This costs time and affects your remuneration.

The NFSP understands the importance of resolving this issue as promptly as possible. And we understand there, are security issues at stake here due to the large quantities of cash being held in your post offices.  

What the NFSP is currently doing is asking the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to set clear guidance on anti-money laundering by offering the same regulation at post office counters as at bank branches. 

Post Office Ltd. (PO) is due to meet with the FCA to discuss the reduced deposit limits. 

Please fill out this FORM from PO which will go to the FCA with data showing the impact that the deposit limits have had on your branch so far. 

The second issue that was the current energy bill crisis and the Government’s Energy Relief Scheme. The scheme currently offers a £211pmw extra for electricity, this should be applied directly by your energy supplier, please make sure you are receiving this if not then get in contact with your supplier.  

However, this bonus is set to end on March 31 2023. Without continued support from the government as part of the energy bill relief scheme, many post offices will find it extremely hard to stay open. Therefore, we need you to write to your local MP and outline the struggles you are facing because of the mounting energy crisis.  

The NFSP are asking for post offices to be classed as a vulnerable industry. We are engaging with the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), PO, Citizens’ Advice, Which? NFRN, British Chambers of Commerce, Retail NO as well as Age UK, and speaking on behalf of our members by highlighting the severity of the impact of the crisis. 

We need all of you to continue with this fight with your local MPs.

Write to them using our letter template that is asking to extend the deadline of the business energy bill relief scheme beyond the proposed date, which you can find HERE.

Engage with customers and the local chamber of commerce and highlight to them the struggles and encourage them to write to their MPs for change. The higher number of letters that reach parliament the higher chance of the government listening and calling for change. 

To get involved please use our toolkit provided via our Toolkit on the Public Affairs  section of our website. There are letter templates for you and your customers to send out to your MPs.

The toolkit contain resiources for our social media campaign #loveyourlocalpostoffice for us all to share as well as press releases to send to your local newspapers and media. The NFSP will be sending the press release out to national newspapers and media.  

Members questions and comments 

The second part of the meeting, which was the longest part was questions and comments from the NFSP members that joined the call. These were fielded by Calum, Sue and Christine: 

  • Jacqui told the meeting that she had several customers who were paying in business earnings but using a personal bank account to save on the cost of holding a business account. Christine said that while she was aware of this practice, it was very rare. Sue also said that she had experienced the same, but again felt this was uncommon. Jacqui pointed out that some customers had more than one account and, since PO is not the bank, money-laundering could be happening over the counter. 
  • Vince Malone spoke of his experience: He has a huge number of customers that bank large amounts of cash and can no longer use his post office. They now have to travel for up to 4 minutes to the nearest bank with as much as £30,000. He also pointed out that an increasing number of his customers are using cash to budget their expenditures. Their ability to do so will be hugely impacted if we move to a cashless society.  
  • Christine also pointed out the environmental impact of the extra journeys made by people having to travel to their nearest bank. 
  • Chris Bolton said banks are making rules for themselves. He spoke of a “lack of transparency.” and there should be one simple rule throughout the network. We have a responsibility to let the public know what services are available.  
  • Nick told us about a customer last week who could not pay money into her account. She spoke with her bank (Santander) who told her she had a £10k limit per year.  
  • Sue emphasised that it is up to us to fight to keep cash or lose a quarter of our business 
  • Jeevan asked if we had contacted the PO All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) and how to approach contacting MPs when your business is not in your constituency. Calum explained that the APPG is aware of the issues. He also explained about contacting MPs and getting a group of local postmasters together as an MP can not ignore 5-6 constituents 
  • Christine stated that Jeevan was entitled to contact his constituency MP as his income is threatened. 
  • John Follenfant contacted his MP and even though it was a bland response; it all helps highlight the issues. John said how frustrating it was to count large amounts of cash for it then to be declined. He said he would appreciate a linked-up approach on Horizon showing what the limit was for each customer and being able to advise them of their options. He stated he had a meeting with John Glen MP to get more information 
  • Karen told us that her energy bill was projected to be an extra £1,200 per month increase from her usual bill and had already spoken to her councilor and MP. She thought it would be better to be able to switch off PO equipment overnight to save energy. Sue mentioned that this had been raised with PO. Christine suggested that all members should get a renewal quote from their energy supplier to prepare themselves. 
  • Jim McCafferty asked if it was worth asking PO for a contribution to electricity bills. Regarding banking deposits stated the impact on access to cash. 87% of our members have already been affected. He is hoping to get a delegation to meet with his MP and ask for vulnerable status. 
  • Jigar P stated that his customers used Moneygram and services such as Monzo in high numbers as he is near a university. They are being impacted as they cannot deposit money into their accounts. He suggests arranging a press conference to highlight the issues. 
  • Howard Greenman stated there was a move towards a cashless society and the impact that would have on the vulnerable. He recently had a meeting with the cybercrime unit of the local Police – he stated cash makes people feel less vulnerable, so we need to protect it. Members need to contact their MPs immediately regarding this. 
  • David Ward raised the Facebook group Keep Cash UK. He also mentioned that he had met with his MP. He believes that there should be a windfall tax. 
  • Bharat had an operational suggestion: If appropriate, postmasters could bank £1000 at a time. He also pointed out that banking income is on the increase which is a good excuse for not increasing PMs remuneration. He said that PO are not considering the rising cost of living. And that PO should pay for their mistakes not Postmasters. 
  • Vipin suggested a petition against a cashless society.  
  • Bina believes that that PO could negotiate energy rates in bulk with an energy supplier. 

From the text messages: 

  • Banks have back dated the cash limits to earlier in 2022 
  • PO also have a template letter to MPs. Can we use that? Calum said that was not a problem if the message is getting through 

Poll Results

Do you agree to write/meet with your local MP to highlight the plight of the Post Office network? 

Yes: 99%

No: 1%

Would you be willing to organise a meeting between your local MP and Postmasters within their constituency? 

Yes: 82%

No: 18%

Do you agree to engage with customers and local businesses to highlight how the banking changes will negatively impact them? 

Yes: 97%

No: 3%

As far as business through 2023 is concerned, are you

Positive? 4%

Neutral? 7%

Worried? 89%

Is anyone seriously thinking of leaving the network in 2023? 

Yes: 50%

No: 50%

Government currently provide Post Office with £50m in subsidy, should this be increased to provide Mains & Locals with back office payments? 

Yes: 100%

No: 0%

Do you hold Government accountable for the demise of the PO? 

Yes: 79%

No: 21%