Business & Enterprise Committee


11 December 2008  (PN 6)



The Business & Enterprise Committee today announces a new inquiry into the future shape of the Post Office network.

The future shape of the Post Office network affects everybody.  Following  the network change programme and the decision to award the Post Office Card Account to Post Office Ltd, the network will contain about 11,500 branches, and 500 outreach services. In addition to access to mail services, it will provide access to benefits for Post Office card users, some banking services and a range of government and local government services, which will vary from branch to branch.  The Post Office network currently receives support of £150 million per year from the taxpayer. The question is how can we ensure a comprehensive network which provides the services the public needs for the foreseeable future?

To shed light on this, the Government has asked the Business and Enterprise Committee to review future services to be offered through the Post Office network. The Committee has accepted, while making it clear that it will have full control over the scope of its inquiry, setting the detailed terms of reference and reporting to the House of Commons in the normal way.

The Committee is today announcing that inquiry. It hopes to report by early summer.

Peter Luff, Chairman of the Committee said:

“We welcome the Government’s recognition of the expertise the Committee has built up over the years. The Government’s whole hearted engagement with this inquiry will we hope provide the basis for a comprehensive Post Office network, providing commercial and public services at the lowest possible cost to the taxpayer. We are sure the  public will engage with us in shaping the future of a network which will serve their needs.  The independent, all-party, nature of Select Committees means that the public can be confident their views will be taken into account.”

 In the first instance, the Committee would welcome written evidence on the following questions.

1) What services should the Post Office network offer,

-from government,

-from local authorities, and

-from other sources, including services in competition with Royal Mail Group;

To what extent would these increase the network’s commercial viability? Is there a case for any service to be subsidised, and if so, to what extent.

2) How much account should be taken of

a) costs to the taxpayer in providing services through the Post Office rather than through cheaper channels; and

b) consumer preference for alternative channels?

3) To what extent would a desire for the presence of a Post Office or Post Office services translate into actual use of those services?

4) What are the impacts of the availability of post office facilities for businesses, and local residents; and in particular how significant is the network in aiding social and financial inclusion;

5) What level of subsidy-if any-per Post Office would be reasonable in the long term; for example, should it be £20,000 or £200,000?

The Committee would welcome written evidence from widest possible range of participants before Friday 30 January 2009. Evidence should be not more than 5 pages and  should be sent, as an MS Word document, by e-mail to [email protected] with a single hard copy sent to the Clerk of the Business & Enterprise Committee, 7 Millbank, London  SW1P 3JA.

Once submitted evidence is the property of the Committee and should not be published without the Committee's consent. The Committee will usually publish evidence it receives, both in printed form and on the Internet. If anyone wishes their submission to remain 'confidential' please contact this Office for guidance. More details on how to submit written evidence can be found here:

A further opportunity for wider public input in the form of a web forum will be announced in the New Year for those who do not want to submit formal memoranda. Oral evidence sessions are expected to start in February.

Further Information:

Committee membership is as follows:
Chairman: Peter Luff MP (Con) (Mid Worcestershire)
Mr Adrian Bailey (Lab) (West Bromwich West)
Roger Berry (Lab) (Kingswood)
Mr Brian Binley (Con) (Northampton South)
Mr Michael Clapham (Lab) (Barnsley West and Pen.)
Mr Lindsay Hoyle (Lab) (Chorley)
Miss Julie Kirkbride (Con) (Bromsgrove)
Anne Moffat (Lab) (East Lothian)
Mark Oaten (Lib Dem) (Winchester)
Mr Mike Weir (SNP) (Angus)
Mr Anthony Wright (Lab) (Great Yarmouth)

Media Enquiries: Laura Humble, Tel 0207 219 2003/ 07917 488 489, email: [email protected]

Specific Committee Information: Tel 020 7219 5777, email: [email protected]