Headlines: July 23rd, 2008

The impact of Post Office closures on older members of local communities has been detailed in new figures from the charity Help the Aged. They show that almost a third of older people have seen their nearest post office close.

The charity’s report also found that a fifth of older people, or about 2.3 million people, needed to travel at least half a mile to a mile further to find a replacement for their local branch when it closed. Help The Aged believes elderly people are not being given adequate consideration during the consultation process about closures.

It says older people are important customers for the Post Office because thousands of them collect their pensions direct from their local offices each week. The charity also claims that millions of older people are struggling with day-to-day tasks because of the closures. Help The Aged is also pointing out that in spite of nearly 100,000 responses to the public consultation and almost 500 hours of meetings fewer than 4 per cent of branches listed for closure have been saved.

Dr Alan Burnett, senior policy officer for the charity said, “Older people feel very strongly about this issue. When you have a mobility problem or difficulty getting around, a journey extended by only half a mile is not a simple matter of a little more exercise it is almost a complete removal of the service.

He said many older people had told the charity that they felt ignored in the process and it seemed the Post Office was just paying lip service to the Government consultation. Even so, Help The Aged is urging older people to get involved in the consultations over proposed closures and to give the Post Office the local information that would allow the right decisions to be made