Press release

Putting post offices at the heart of local communities

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Public competition launched for post office schemes to benefit local community and small businesses.

A competition launched today (18 July, 2013) asks the public to suggest projects their local post office could start up to benefit the community, including mentoring for business start-ups, digital access and training and display space for local producers. Successful schemes must be innovative and support the local community or small businesses in the area.

Working with local residents, sub-postmasters across England can now apply for up to £10,000 from a £200,000 community enterprise fund from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and the Post Office. Branches will suggest suitable projects, which must be not for profit but provide a service, activity or support that are easily accessible and open to all.

Launching the competition for sub-postmasters Communities Minister Don Foster said:

Post offices, just like pubs and local shops, are often at the heart of communities and I want to give them an even bigger role in bringing people together. This competition will reward people and post office branches that work together to put forward great ideas for ways to benefit the local community.

This project builds on the government’s community rights agenda, giving local communities the power to protect local assets and influence how local services are run.

Over 90% of the population lives within one mile of a post office, giving people easy access to a wide range of services that they need on a daily basis, and which for many people offer a crucial link to the wider world.

Paula Vennells, Chief Executive of the Post Office said:

This is an exciting project where branches can be really innovative about how to support those in the community with their everyday lives. It builds on the long heritage of the Post Office as a nationwide business but with each branch rooted in its community and responsive to the needs of local people.

Many sub-postmasters already offer facilities and services which go far beyond their core business. We want to help many more branches to strengthen their role as a community hub, by providing additional services or facilities which help local people, or by using sub-postmaster’s commercial skills to offer support to local groups and businesses.

In many places in England, especially in more rural areas, post offices already offer much more than the traditional services such as government transactions, financial and postal services. A branch in the Cotswolds for example provides free internet access. Another in the North East is based in a disused pub and combines Internet access with a health centre and a nursery.

The funds are available for sub-postmasters in English post office branches, working in consultation with their local communities. The competition is not open to Crown branches.

Members of the public who wish to suggest projects should speak to their local branch manager by Friday 18 October 2013. See details of branches on the Post Office website.

DCLG and Post Office will convene a small judging panel comprising:

  • Department for Communities and Local Government
  • Post Office Ltd
  • Other external organisations with expertise in this area.

Judging will take place in autumn with the successful schemes announced shortly after.

Communities Minister Don Foster with staff of the Wood St Post Office, Walthamstow
Communities Minister Don Foster with staff of the Wood St Post Office, Walthamstow.
Communities Minister Don Foster with staff and customers at the Wood St Post Office, Walthamstow
Communities Minister Don Foster with staff and customers at the Wood St Post Office, Walthamstow.

Further information

Around 20 million customers a week and half of all small businesses are serviced in the Post Office each week. 99.7% of people live within 3 miles of their nearest Post Office outlet with 93.1% within a mile.

The Post Office already provides 170 different services and products spanning financial services including savings, insurance, loans, mortgages and credit cards. It also offers telephony; foreign currency; travel insurance and mail services.

Information on the competition and a flyer for people to submit ideas to their local post office are now available on the Post Office website

Post Office Ltd press office

Tel: 0207 012 3456

Email: Pressoffice@postoffice.co.uk

Media enquiries