The Post Office has launched a £20m Community Branch Fund to help secure the long-term future of branches in villages and remote communities, and underpin their crucial economic and social role.
As the traditional banking network declines, community branches are critical in enabling local people to maintain access to the majority of high street banks, along with a wide range of other Post Office products and services.
There are around 3,400 branches across the UK where the Post Office is the only or last shop in the community. With a bigger network than all the UK’s banks and building societies combined, around 18 million people use the Post Office every week and 99.7% of people live within three miles of their nearest outlet.
Subpostmasters will have the opportunity to make a case for funding to support the growth of their business and deliver benefits to customers to help the long-term sustainability of their branch.
The Community Branch Fund launch is part of the Government’s £640m commitment to Securing the Future of the Post Office, as announced by Consumer Affairs Minister Jo Swinson in November last year.
A focus for investment will be activity that helps grow business for the branch and which benefits its local customers. Together this will help the future sustainability of the Post Office in the local community.
Paula Vennells, chief executive of the Post Office, said: “The Post Office sits at the heart of thousands of communities across the UK. As a commercial business with a powerful public purpose, the Community Branch Fund demonstrates our commitment to our customers.
“Where many organisations are withdrawing from communities we are staying put, supporting all our customers wherever they are.
“We are changing to undergo the biggest transformation in our 370-year history. Customers are already seeing modernised branches with longer opening hours and developments such as Post and Go which are reducing waiting times, plus new products such current accounts and mortgages.”