Headlines: September 6th, 2007

A study today reveals that poorer outer urban communities are the worst hit by Post Office closures. The report from the National Consumer Council and Dr Foster research looks at the impact of past closures as a further 2,500 local offices face closure over the next 18 months.

Surprisingly the study shows that while rural communities have been largely protected on social grounds from closures so far, poor urban areas where there is a heavy reliance on the local Post Office have borne the brunt. Now the NCC is calling on Post Office Ltd to learn lessons from the research and to ensure that communities with the greatest need for Post Office services are protected in future whether they are in urban or rural areas.

Nicola O’Reilly, from NCC said, “Protecting vulnerable communities from the impact of Post Office closures is no simple task. People are as important as places in these decisions. It’s vital that plans for the next 2,500 closures protect the people who would be hardest hit.”

The study also found that those people who were most reliant on Post Office services, such as single mothers and elderly people, were less able to make their case.

“Post Office Closures 2002 to 2006: lessons for 2007 to 2009” shows the hardest hit communities have been in large housing estates on the outskirts of smaller cities, such as Cardiff, Nottingham and Leeds, where there are fewer banks and supermarkets. It says people in those areas tend to be younger, on lower incomes and often unemployed. Many are lone parents and few have access to a car. High dependency on state benefits and the lack of access to banks and mainstream credit means they are heavily reliant on their local Post Office. Both urban and rural communities with large numbers of older people without cars were also disadvantaged by closures.