Headlines: December 24th, 2001

The one stop government shop pilot running at more then 280 Post Offices in Leicestershire and Rutland was given a boost by the announcement of support from the Department of Trade and Industry for the proposed Universal Banking Service. The new Post Office Bank is an essential feature of plans to give postmasters the role of Government General Practitioners similar to that of a medical GP. They will act as a gateway to a wide range of government services and help customers use on-line facilities.The decision to support the bank means that when the use of pension and other benefits books is ended in April 2003 with the switch to electronic payment, some 16 million customers will continue to collect their benefits payments in cash at Post Office branches. Customers will have the choice of using a Post Office card account, a basic bank account or their existing account.

One stop shops are an essential feature of plans to bridge the digital divide and provide for people who are unable, or unwilling to use technology. The pilot shops provide a range of information which includes applying for a disabled parking badge, council housing information, and pension entitlement. Some of the pilots provide for carrying out transactions such as paying council tax.