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Apr 5, 2023 |

NFSP Communications Team

Post Office Ltd is facing backlash over its decision to cut long serving Hard to Place (HtP) subpostmaster’s leavers payment by more than half, for those affected by the end of the Network Transformation programme in March 2025. Critics are calling the latest move the new Post Office Scandal and are questioning what happened to the supposedly-ringfenced money given to the Post Office by the Government at the end of the Network Transformation programme.  

Following the closure of the Network Transformation (NT) programme in 2018, the Post Office held a ‘Hard to Place’ register, which covers offices that have not found a replacement subpostmaster. This is commonly due to location, declining footfall and can also be related to low remuneration etc. Most of these offices are in rural locations 

The NT programme began in 2012. For those subpostmasters who did not want to change their contract to one of the new operating models, provision was made in the form of an 18-month ’leavers payment ‘. In 2014 this payment was increased to 26 months due to the programme becoming compulsory. However, each subpostmaster had to decide by December 2015 as to whether they wished to convert to one of the new operating models or exit the network. Those who did not sign, were asked to sign a conditional resignation form, enabling them to leave the network with their leavers' payment once a new subpostmaster was found.  

At the end of the Network Transformation programme, Post Office redeployed or made redundant the Field Change Advisors meaning there was no dedicated team within Post Office looking to find a replacement Postmaster. This has left this group of Postmasters in limbo since. 

However, Post Office Ltd has now written to the remaining subpostmasters, to inform them that the NT programme will cease in March 2025, and forcing them to agree to a 12-month payment. Many of the subpostmasters are past the state retirement age and/or have underlying health issues. Yet they continue to keep their offices open, serving their community while waiting, in vain, for someone to take over the business.   

The National Federation of SubPostmasters (NFSP) states that it has tried to highlight the error in Post Office's decision on numerous occasions, but the state-owned company has refused to accept that its offer of 12 months, may leave colleagues with very little remaining after they pay tax, leases or mortgages, staff redundancies, and other associated costs such as clearing the Post Office counter from the premises. The NFSP state that Post Office's push for this option is because they do not want to fund the transfer of HtP subpostmasters onto the new IT (NBit) system.  

The NFSP believes that this decision is morally wrong, as it may deprive many colleagues, of funds to ease their financial position through retirement.  

In a recent letter to those affected subpostmasters, NFSP Chief Executive Calum Greenhow wrote: “Post Office are willing to treat postmasters today in the same manner in which they treated them throughout the Horizon scandal.” 

“Government consistently state that they have provided funding to the Post Office of £2.4bn via the NT process, which should have included ring-fenced funds to allow all those colleagues from 2015 to exit the network with 26 months Leavers Payment. Our question remains, what has happened to that ring-fenced money?”