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SNP MP CALLS FOR POST OFFICE SUBSIDY EXTENSION AS SCOTLAND STILL HARDEST HIT BY POSMASTER CRISIS

Today, SNP MP Marion Fellows has called on the UK Government to continue providing public subsidy to Post Office Ltd after figures reveal Scotland is still being hit hardest by the Postmaster crisis.

Pre-Covid Post Office figures show that as of 31 March, Scotland had the highest number of temporarily closed Post Offices in the UK with 161.

This is a 17% increase since 2019 when Scotland also had the highest number of temporarily closed branches.

Speaking at Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy questions, Mrs Fellows called on the UK Government to maintain or increase the UK Government’s subsidy of Post Office Ltd to prevent Sub-Postmasters handing in their keys leaving more communities without vital Post Office services.

Post Office Ltd will receive a subsidy of £50m in 2020/21 to keep less profitable branches open. Ministers say that the continuation of the subsidy will be considered as part of the 2020 Spending Review.

Commenting, Mrs Fellows said:

“Communities across Scotland and the rest of the UK are losing access to Post Offices’ vital services as more Sub-Postmasters hand in their keys. The UK Government must take the Post Office off the pathway to privatisation and maintain or increase the public subsidy.

“During the Covid-19 pandemic, Sub-Postmasters have proven just how essential they are to communities. But many are resigning creating a Postmaster crisis. They must be supported.

“Scotland is being hit hardest by the Postmaster crisis. This means communities in Scotland – which are some of the most rural – are finding it the hardest to access postal, banking and government services.

“As well as maintaining the subsidy, the UK Government needs to quickly develop a long term and sustainable strategy for the Post Office where branches can be banking and government service hubs.”

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ELECTED AS VICE CHAIR OF POST OFFICES APPG

I’m extremely proud to announce that I have been elected as a Vice Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Post Offices.

Post Offices are a vital public service which deserves investment and respect – not managed decline as we are seeing from the UK Government.

I have fought for communities and staff since elected and I am proud that sustained pressure has forced the UK Government to commit to millions of pounds more funding, but so much more must be done to ensure Post Offices remain at the forefront of our high streets and communities.

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MARION VOWS TO CONTINUE FIGHT FOR LOCAL POST OFFICES

Former MP for the Motherwell and Wishaw constituency and the SNP’s candidate, Marion Fellows, will vow to keep fighting to protect Post Office branches in local communities if re-elected on the 12th of December.

Mrs Fellows spearheaded the campaign in Parliament to improve remuneration for Subpostmasters as thousands across Scotland and the rest of the UK threatened to hand in their keys as executive paypackets soared.

Mrs Fellows has previously met with Subpostmasters to hear firsthand how they feel about the new rates and if enough has been done to support them and protect the network from closures.

Mrs Fellows successfully pressured Post Office Ltd into a £37m package for Subpostmasters through improved subsidies and rates enabling them to stay in their posts.

She also pressured Barclay’s bank into a u-turn so customers can continue to make free cash withdrawals from Post Offices to protect financial inclusion; and ensured the UK Government continued Biometric Residence Permit collections in branches.

Last month at the SNP Conference, Mrs Fellows led calls for the Post Office to remain in public hands and for Royal Mail to be renationalised. She also called for branches to act as banking and government service hubs to ensure access to free cash withdrawals and vital services.


Commenting, Mrs Fellows said:

“Protecting our valued public services like the Post Office network from the managed decline and privatisation of profit driven Tories has been a key priority of mine and I have been succeeding for our Subpostmaster and communities. Our public services – like Royal Mail – must be in public hands so they can serve the public.

“If re-elected as the MP for Motherwell and Wishaw, I want to continue fighting to protect and improve our Post Office network so they can continue to provide the services communities rely on. This must include the re-opening of larger Crown branches like the one that closed in central Motherwell.

“The fight isn’t over. The Post Office network was at crisis point and it’s still in a precarious position. As banks leave our high streets and ATMs begin charging fees, people – especially vulnerable people – must have free access to cash. Post Offices can become banking and service hubs so that they can remain core to our communities.”

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SNP CONFERENCE CALLS FOR ACTION TO SAVE OUR POST OFFICE

MP LEADS CALLS TO STOP PRIVATISATION THROUGH “MANAGED DECLINE”

Motherwell and Wishaw MP, Marion Fellows, led calls at SNP Conference on Sunday (13 October) to ensure the longevity in the Post Office network

The motion proposed by Mrs Fellows was passed unanimously and called for the proper remuneration of sub-Postmasters as many are resigning and thousands are threatening to leave due to low pay leaving communities without vital services.

In addition, the motion called for the protection of Crown Post Office branches after Post Office Ltd closed hundreds like the Brandon branch in central Motherwell.

There were also calls to re-nationalise Royal Mail; ensure trade union representation on the Post Office Ltd executive board; and for Post Office branches to become central hubs for banking and Government services over fears that communities are losing access to cash.

Mrs Fellows also co-signed a joint letter to Barclay’s CEO this week after the bank announced it will withdraw from the Post Office banking framework preventing customers from making cash withdrawals from Post Office branches.

Commenting, Mrs Fellows said:

“The Post Office network is at crisis point. It must remain in public hands and receive proper support from the UK Government which has adopted a policy of managed decline so they can justify privatising it like they did to Royal Mail. Post Offices are a key part of our communities. They must be protected.

“By protecting and re-opening larger, Crown branches and ensuring the provision of banking and Government services, the Post Office network can improve sub-Postmaster pay – keeping smaller branches open – and continue to provide the vital services communities rely on – like access to cash.

“Instead of turning a blind eye to communities and Post Office workers, Post Office Ltd and the UK Government must listen and act.”E

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CROSS-PARTY OPPOSITION TO BARCLAY’S POST OFFICE SNUB

I’ve added my name to a cross-party letter to Barclay’s CEO, Jes Staley, following their decision to withdraw from the Post Office’s banking framework.

By preventing cash withdrawals from Post Offices, Barclay’s is abandoning its customers and the Post Office network. They must reverse their decision immediately and join the framework like other banks have agreed to.

The story in my constituency is the same across Scotland and the rest of the UK: people are struggling to access cash and free ATMs. As called for by SNP Conference this weekend, Post Offices must become banking and Government service hubs to support communities and the network.

Local people are undoubtedly angry as access to cash worsens. People will vote with their wallets and support the banks which will support them and enable them to access cash.

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SNP CONFERENCE CALLS FOR ACTION TO SAVE OUR POST OFFICE

At SNP Conference on Sunday, my motion on Post Offices (seconded by Gavin Newlands MP) was passed by acclaim. Our Post Offices must remain in public hands and receive proper support and investment from the UK Government which has adopted a policy of managed decline so they can justify privatising it. Post Offices are a key part of our communities and they must remain.

Our motion also called for:
✉️ The re-nationalisation of Royal Mail;
💰 Proper remuneration for Sub-Postmasters;
👑 Protection of Crown branches and opposition to closures;
✊ Trade Union representation on the Post Office executive
board;
🏛 Post Offices to become hubs for banking and Government
services;
⚖️ A review of the UK Government’s legal strategy in the
Horizon case.

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This Week #40

16th – 22nd January 2017


Monday saw a return to London after the weekend as Marion travelled to Parliament for a week of meetings, briefings, and debates.





On Wednesday, Marion was hard at work in Parliament, in particular as part of the Education Select Committee and in attendance at Prime Minister’s Questions.



On Thursday, Marion asked the Leader of the House to make time to discuss the state of UK banking following the announcement that the Airdrie Savings Bank will close after 180 years, meaning 70 people will lose their jobs. The Airdrie Savings Bank provided a fantastic service to people in Lanarkshire and it is a great loss to the area.

The closure is the result of tighter banking regulations following the 2008 economic crash meaning that gambling bankers have indirectly led to the closure of the UK’s last independent savings bank.

Marion also welcomes the statement from her Westminster colleague, Neil Gray MP, and Alex Neil MSP, in which they make it clear they will make efforts to help employees find alternative employment.

Marion also received an answer to a submitted written question on mobile telephone coverage in Lanarkshire:

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what steps she is taking to improve mobile telephone coverage in Lanarkshire.

Matthew Hancock, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, responded:

Improving mobile connectivity across the whole of the UK is a priority for the Government. The Ofcom licence obligations arising from the December 2014 agreement mean that the four Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) have a legally binding obligation to provide voice/SMS text coverage to at least 90% of the UK’s landmass by end-2017. Additionally Telefonica (O2) has a licence obligation to deliver indoor 4G coverage to 98% of UK premises (95% in Scotland and the other Devolved Administrations.) The Digital Economy Bill, currently going through Parliament, will give the regulator Ofcom the power to issue large fines to mobile phone companies who fail to meet their licence obligations.

The Government’s agreement with the MNOs locked in investment of £5 billion and is delivering improved coverage across the UK. Ofcom’s 2016 Connected Nations Report shows that 98% of Scottish premises now have indoor voice coverage and 62% have indoor 4G data coverage from all four MNOs (up from 22% in 2015). Our proposed reforms of the Electronic Communications Code, will support further investment and improvements in connectivity across the UK and reduce not spots.



Friday meant Marion was back in the constituency, undertaking a busy day of meetings with local people and organisations.

The Motherwell and Wishaw MP also received responses to written questions, including one on the Child Maintenance Service – a subject Marion has been keen to discuss recently:

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what criteria were used to determine the Child Maintenance Service’s enforcement charges, including liability orders, lump sum reduction orders, regular deduction orders and deduction from earnings orders and requests.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Caroline Nokes, replied:

Enforcement charges are intended to encourage parents to comply with their commitments, as well as to help off-set the administrative cost of taking enforcement action. The enforcement charges are lower than the actual cost to the Department for taking the action. To charge the full cost could have an adverse effect and encourage non-compliance, as well as being potentially disproportionate to the size of the debt. The levels are designed to be proportionate to the type, and seriousness, of the order that is being pursued.

Enforcement charges are only collected once the ongoing maintenance and any arrears due have, been paid.