Lord Campbell of Croy
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What facilities will be available to enable disabled people to draw their pensions when local post offices and rural branches have closed. [HL5815]
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville)
The Government are committed to the maintenance of a nationwide network of post offices. The formal requirement on Consignia, then the Post Office, of November 2000 to maintain the network and to prevent any avoidable closures of rural post offices remains in place initially until 2006. We have made available a £2 million fund to support volunteer and community initiatives to maintain or reopen post offices facilities in rural areas where traditional service would otherwise close. In addition, the Government are developing proposals for the rural network in the context of the Postal Services Commission's advice on the best way to channel financial assistance to the rural network.
Banking will be a central part of the strategy of Post Office Limited to move forward. Universal banking service, together with plans for expansion of network banking—the provision of counter service for ordinary current accounts—should lead to a substantial increase in the range and volume of banking at post offices.