The National Federation of Subpostmasters has received a response from Richard Holden MP regarding the petition to keep DVLA services in post offices.
A petition with 100,000 signatures was presented to Downing Street by the NFSP on Thursday 2 November. Six million people use the Post Office network for accessing DVLA services each year and the NFSP is calling on government to reverse its decision to remove DVLA services from the network from Sunday 31 March, 2024.
NFSP Non-Executive Director North East Sue Edgar wrote several emails to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, her MP for Richmond (Yorks), to highlight the campaign and received a reply on Friday 3 November.
Sunak acknowledged the central role post offices and postmasters play in local communities and requested a ministerial response.
Holden was yesterday appointed the new Conservative party chairman in Sunak’s latest cabinet reshuffle but wrote to Sue on Sunday 12 November in his Minister for Roads and Local Transport role.
He said: “I am writing to you regarding the petition handed into 10 Downing Street on 2 November about the availability of Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) services from the Post Office. The petition has been passed to this Department and I am replying as the Minister for Roads and Local Transport.
“I am sorry to learn of the concern that this issue is causing you and your colleagues within the National Federation of Subpostmasters.
“In terms of DVLA services, an extension to the current contract with the Post Office Ltd has been agreed to ensure that DVLA services will be available at post offices until the end of March 2024.
“The DVLA wants its customers to be able to access its services as quickly and easily as possible and is considering the role that face-to-face counter services will play in the future, utilising cross-government agreements where possible.
“I can assure you the government recognises how important post offices are to communities and more than £2.5 billion in funding has been provided to support the Post Office network over the past 10 years, with a further £335 million between 2022 and 2025. This package includes funding of £50 million a year to ensure the viability of rural and community branches.
“However, Post Office Ltd is a commercial business operating at arm’s length from government. While the Department of Business and Trade sets the high-level parameters for the Post Office as set out in the Post Office Articles of Association, it is the Post Office’s Chief Executive, together with the Board of Directors who are responsible for running Post Office Ltd’s day-to-day and taking commercial decisions.
“The Department for Business and Trade’s long-standing position is not to involve itself in Post Office’s commercial decisions. This is the position whether Post Office Ltd is negotiating with a private company or with another part of government.
“Please extend my thanks to your colleagues for taking the time to submit your petition.”