Headlines: September 14th, 2001

The “Your guide” one stop shop pilot project will be formerly launched today by Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt and Consignia (the new name for the Post Office) Chairman Neville Bain.The “Your Guide” service – a 30 million pounds jointly funded initiative between Government and Consignia – brings together useful information and services from across central and local Government and the voluntary and private sectors, including jobs and training, benefits and entitlements and local information. The service, which is available at 268 post offices in Leicestershire and Rutland, provides easy access to a wide range of important information and services and in some locations, to expert advice sessions.

“Your Guide” has been designed following detailed research of customer needs and preferences. Customers can access facilities free of charge, using a choice of methods, from personal assistance and leaflets to a free phone offering 20 different helplines and a simple to use touch screen kiosk with over 9,000 pages of information.

Content providers to “Your Guide” include County, District and Borough Councils throughout Leicestershire and Rutland, Age Concern, National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux, Department for Work and Pensions, Department for Education and Skills, the Inland Revenue, Upmystreet.com and Arriva Fox County.

The pilot project brings together a wide coalition of interests. Minister hope that a successful outcome to the pilot and a subsequent national roll out will help to bridge the digital divide because most people in the UK live within one mile of a post office and many of the information ‘have nots’ are regular users of post offices. The Countryside Agency is looking to “Your Guide” to provide a real life line to rural communities, especially because of the number of rural post offices seemingly at risk of closure. Rural post offices provide far more than just postal services. Consignia is due to loose a large slice of its business when pensions and other benefits are paid through the banking system and it is urgently seeking alternative revenue streams.