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Government to listen to "all options and solutions" says Minister Kevin Hollinrake following Post Office talks

News item

7th February 2024
Photograph following Post Office discussions involving Kevin Hollinrake MP and representatives from the CWU, Voice of Postmaster, and Co-operatives UK

Voice of Postmaster and the Communication Workers Union (CWU) - accompanied by mutual sector body Co-operatives UK - have held talks with Post Office Minister Kevin Hollinrake MP to discuss the Post Office.

Today (Wednesday 7 February) representatives of postmasters - Voice of Postmaster and the Communication Workers Union (CWU) - accompanied by mutual sector body Co-operatives UK, held a successful meeting with Post Office Minister Kevin Hollinrake MP to discuss the future of the Post Office.  

Minister Hollinrake confirmed government’s interest in hearing all options and solutions, including the possibility of turning the Post Office into a mutual that would be owned and controlled by postmasters and the communities they serve.  

Minister Hollinrake made the following commitments: 

  • The Minister will ask the Post Office to engage fully with all bodies representing postmasters 
  • In decisions about the future of the Post Office network, government will prioritise remuneration of postmasters and the profitability of local outlets, which it is acknowledged are vital to the long-term health and sustainability of this vital institution

The Minister has requested a detailed proposal from Co-operatives UK on its suggestion of an independent review into the practicalities of mutualization of the Post Office. The sector body believes such a review should be commissioned by the Department of Business and Trade, headed by an impartial public figure, with a panel comprising postmasters, customers, leaders in large mutuals, industry experts and others with expertise in local and rural economies and high streets. 

Their view was that among other matters, the review would need to consider how a mutual model would empower postmasters, respond to changing customer behaviour, and protect and enhance the already significant social impact of the Post Office network.  

The minister has agreed to a further meeting. 

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We need significant change. Ministers have looked at mutualizing the Post Office in the past and it's time we revisited these options. The voce of the Postmaster is indebted to Minister Hollinrake for his valuable time and thanks him for further engagement in solving the current day issues of postmasters.
– Richard Trinder, Chair, Voice of the Postmaster

Richard Trinder, Chair, Voice of the Postmaster, said: “Whilst never forgetting the suffering of our fellow Postmaster over the last 20 years, it must never be allowed to happen again. All Postmaster representative bodies must work together to find the solution for the future. 

Sean Hudson, Branch Secretary of CWU, said: "The current model is broken - there is no doubt about that. The problems of the past are clear, but the future is as important as the past to our members. No sticking plaster remedy is appropriate or suitable. Mutualization is a very attractive alternative to the current failed model it would replace and represents one of, if not the best way of, ensuring a future for sub postmasters in which they can continue to serve their communities on an economically viable footing – which has been missing to date. " 

Rose Marley, CEO of Co-operatives UK, said: “We believe a taskforce of new and progressive thinkers - with postmasters, customers and leading mutual figures front and centre - could produce solutions for government to consider. We welcome the Minister's open-mindedness and are delighted to put a detailed proposal together. Any move towards mutualization marks a profound shift towards empowerment, transparent governance and shared prosperity for postmasters and communities the Post Office serves.  

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Postmasters, as co-owners, wouldn't simply be overseeing operations; they'd be guardians of a shared vision, fostering a deeper sense of commitment and responsibility. Communities also want to support their Post Office. It could become a vibrant hub of collective success. This is a practical way, through turning the Post Office into a co-operative, to put control and ownership of this national institution in the hands of postmasters and communities.
– Rose Marley, CEO of Co-operatives UK