HC Deb 02 May 2001 vol 367 cc684-5W
Mr. Hurst

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much financial assistance will be made available to those post offices identified by the Government as most vulnerable. [158767]

Mr. Alan Johnson

The Cabinet Office PIU report on modernising the post office network identified post offices in the rural network and in deprived urban areas as in need of special protection.

The Government have accepted all the recommendations of the PIU report on the post office network and under the spending review 2000, as the first stage of modernising the post office network, have ring-fenced support of £270 million over the next three years for new investment to start the implementation of the PIU report. £15 million of this ring-fenced funding has been allocated specifically to help sustain and improve post offices in deprived urban areas. A report from the Postal Services Commission advising the Government on the best way to channel financial assistance to rural post offices is expected in the autumn, following consultations and discussions with the Consumer Council for Post Services, the National Federation of Sub-Postmasters and other key post office network stakeholders.

In addition, a fund of £2 million has been set up to support relocation and refurbishment initiatives by volunteer or community groups to maintain or reopen post office facilities in areas where the traditional post office is closing.