SNP MP CALLS FOR MONEY TO REACH POSTMASTERS TO AVERT CRISIS
The Home Office has confirmed that their contract with Post Office Ltd to provide Biometric Residence Permit collections has been extended by one year to July 2020 following pressure from the SNP’s Marion Fellows MP.
Mrs Fellows previously wrote to the new Home Secretary, Priti Patel, to call for the extension to boost sub-Postmaster pay and protect the national network.
In April this year, a survey carried out by the National Federation of Sub-Postmasters found that 22% of 1,000 sub-Postmasters survey plan on closing, handing over or downsizing their branch as 76% say they earn less than the hourly national minimum wage.
Since 2012, the contract has been worth £10.2m to Post Office Ltd. Mrs Fellows is now calling for this money to reach sub-Postmasters to prevent a Post Office crisis.
In 2018, the Home Office contracted Sopra Steria Ltd to provide Biometric enrolments which were previously provided by Post Office Ltd. The service has drastically reduced as applicants can only enrol at 57 locations compared to 115 under the Post Office.
From 2015 to April 2019, Biometric enrolment contracts were worth £6m to Post Office Ltd. Sopra Steria have been awarded £91m to develop a new digital via and immigration service including Biometric enrolments.
Commenting, Mrs Fellows said:
“The contract extension is fantastic news for sub-Postmasters and communities who rely on them. When sub-Postmasters are threatening to resign en masse and Post Office Ltd are reporting record profits, this money must reach those working on the frontline of the network to avert a crisis.
“The Post Office must become a public procurement priority. Outsourcing has proven to result in poorer standards and lower access while shareholders profit from vital public services. The Post Office network exists, and our sub-Postmasters want to do the work.
“This is just one contract of many the UK Government has with Post Office Ltd. Some of which are expiring soon also. The UK Government must show a renewed vision for Post Offices as service hubs by protecting and expanding service provision through the network.”E