Headlines: September 20th, 2011

The Government has revealed plans to turn Post Office Ltd into a mutual organisation. This would allow communities, subpostmasters and customers to have a say in how they are managed. There would be a major investment programme which would seek to make the Post Office the ‘Front Office for Government with a new commercial focus and a strong community purpose.

A consultation paper, Building a Mutual Post Office, sets out the different options for mutual status. The paper builds on a detailed and independent report for Government led by Co-operatives UK. published in May this year.

Changing Post Office Ltd – the national company which sets the strategy for the post office network and operates some of the larger branches – to a mutual would not affect the ownership of the thousands of privately-owned post office branches up and down the country.

A move to a mutual structure would not be possible until the business is on a more financially sustainable footing. The Government has committed to provide £1.34 billion of funding to the post office network over the spending review period to modernise the network and safeguard its future.

Post Office Ltd is 100 percent owned by the Government, through the Royal Mail group of companies. Government owns 100% of a top holding company, called Royal Mail Holdings plc. Royal Mail Holdings plc does not trade itself but it owns 100% of Royal Mail Group Ltd. Royal Mail Group Ltd is the national letter delivery business we are all familiar with, which is responsible for ensuring the provision of a universal postal service across the UK.

There are some 370 Crown Post Office branches are directly managed by the central holding company Post Office Ltd. The remaining branches across the 11,500 branch network are managed on an agency basis either by subpostmasters or franchise partners. Franchise partners include Tesco, SPAR and Londis.

The consultation ends in December 2011. Go to: http://discuss.bis.gov.uk/pomutualisation/