Policy & Research
The urban Post Office network
As of summer 2010 the urban Post Office network consists of 5,359 post offices. Urban post offices are part of the core infrastructure of the communities they serve, providing vital services for both individuals and local businesses.
Urban offices play an even more important role in urban deprived areas, particularly as they provide free access to cash, plus pensions and benefit payments. During the urban closure programme, in 2002–2005, Post Office Ltd said it was unlikely to close a post office in an urban deprived area unless there was an alternative within half a mile. After that programme ended, the Government put in place new access criteria for the Post Office network, including the stipulation that that 99 per cent of the population in urban deprived areas must be within one mile of their nearest post office.
There are currently 373 crown offices or directly managed branches (approximately 20 are in rural locations). They are generally found in High Street locations, with good transport links and access for disabled customers. About seven million customers visit crown offices each week. In 2006/07 Post Office Ltd began to pursue an active policy of franchising branches in an effort to curb financial losses. As part of this strategy, Post Office Ltd has franchised 70 of its offices into WHSmith stores to date.