In May 2007, the Government embarked on the Network Change, or Post Office Closure Programme, which resulted in Post Office Ltd (POL) closing nearly 2,500 post offices, including 500 branches, which were replaced with Outreach services.
The Post Office Closure Programme was necessary to help get the Post Office network on a more stable footing as it was making heavy losses. However, it was inevitably going to be a difficult time for consumers.
In 2010, Consumer Focus embarked on a piece of research to explore the long term impacts of the Closure Programme and the effects on individuals and communities.
Devon was used as a case study for the research, as it is characterised by deeply rural areas with sparse populations, precisely the areas in which the impacts of the reduction of post office provision would most likely be pronounced.
A number of key lessons for further restructuring of the Post Office network have been identified following this research, and Devon has highlighted the critical importance that local stakeholders and community engagement can play to help mitigate the impacts that changes can bring. For the full story see our report ‘Devon Knows – long term impacts and lessons of the Post Office Closure Programme’.
These lessons will be important in light of the major changes that are due to occur to the Post Office network from the middle of 2012 onwards. In November 2010, the Government announced that 2,000 Post Office Locals and 4,000 Post Office Mains will be introduced across the network between 2012 and 2015.