SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, Gavin Newlands, reiterated his calls for the UK government and national banks to take action to support the sustainability of Community and Sub-Post Offices during a House of Commons debate last night.
During the debate, Newlands highlighted the rising importance of Post Offices to small towns and rural communities and renewed SNP calls for the UK government to act to protect their future.
As bank branch numbers continue to fall, local Post Offices have become increasingly important to local communities – particularly to the elderly and those with additional support needs because of the face-to-face banking services that they provide. This is on top of the role they play in services regarding post, advice, pensions, benefit administration, and community spaces.
The debate took place as UK Finance, trade association for the UK banking and financial services sector, re-negotiates the current deal with Post Office Ltd, where financial remuneration for sub-postmasters from banks to carry out services falls short.
Ahead of the debate, Newlands visited Post Offices in Ferguslie, Renfrew, Bargarran, Kirklandneuk, Inchinnan, and Bridge of Weir. He raised many of their concerns during his lengthy speech.
Commenting after the debate, Gavin Newlands MP said:
“It is now imperative that the UK government steps in and acts to ensure that the Post Office, a publicly owned body, gets a fair deal from banks.
“The local Post Office plays a huge role in public life – it is both a symbol of the community and a lifeline on everything from pensions and benefits to vital day-to-day banking services.
“In many small and rural towns in Scotland, the local Post Office is the last place where a face-to-face service is available, making it essential for the elderly and those with additional support needs.
“Sub-postmasters have continually raised concerns that they are not receiving adequate financial remuneration for services they provide to major banks turning over huge profits, resulting in many post offices operating at a loss.
“Sub-postmasters are also often paid less than the minimum wage when you take into account the hours they work, so not surprisingly many are considering leaving our local high streets.”
“The public owns the Post Office Ltd and the UK Government steward it on our behalf, it is therefore their responsibility to ensure the Post Office has a sustainable future for all of our communities.”