Carmichael highlights “bleak” financial scenario for local post offices in Parliament

26 Oct 2023

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has this week highlighted the “bleak” situation faced by sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses due to unsustainable fiscal balances imposed on them by the publicly-owned Post Office. Speaking in a parliamentary debate on the future of rural post offices on Wednesday, Mr Carmichael noted that many sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses are paid less than their operating costs by the Post Office, creating an unsustainable situation in the long term.

Mr Carmichael said:

“This [lost income for local post offices] comes on top of a situation that most sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses already face, where the individual transaction costs that they are paid for are actually more than the money they are given from the Post Office. Does that not make the bleak scenario that my hon. Friend outlines look rather inevitable?

Responding, Jamie Stone MP said:

“My right hon. Friend represents the furthest constituency—even further away than mine—so he indeed knows what he is talking about.

“Money is lost. There are, however, other ways to ensure the sustainability of rural post offices. We have heard how we can do this from the numerous interventions, for which I thank all hon. and right hon. Members.”

Reacting after the debate, Mr Carmichael said:

“Transaction costs for sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses are only part of the problem. The incomprehensible withdrawal of DVLA services represents the government chasing its own tail. These false economies directly harm local post offices – and that is on top of the losses caused by the reduction in sorting payments.”

“The government likes to talk up our post offices as the “front office” for the public, but that cannot be squared with their steady withdrawal of services through digitalisation. If ministers are serious about the future of our post office network then they need to create an equitable system of payments for the long term – time is running out.”