Post Office Ltd

Post Office Ltd (Welsh: Swyddfa’r Post Cyf.; Scottish Gaelic: Oifis a' Phuist) is a retail post office company in the United Kingdom that provides a wide range of products including postage stamps and banking to the public through its nationwide network of post office branches. The company is owned by the British Government's Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, through Postal Services Holding Company Limited.[2]

Post Office Ltd
State-owned limited company
IndustryPostal service
Founded1986
HeadquartersPost Office Ltd, Finsbury Dials, 20 Finsbury Street, London, EC2Y 9AQ
Area served
United Kingdom
Key people
Tim Parker (Chairman)
Paula Vennells (Chief Executive)
OwnerHM Government
Number of employees
7,798[1]
ParentPostal Services Holding Company Limited
Websitewww.postoffice.co.uk

History

Post Office branches, along with the Royal Mail delivery service, were formerly part of the General Post Office and after 1969, the Post Office corporation. Post Office Counters Ltd was created as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Post Office corporation in 1986. After the Post Office statutory corporation was changed to a public company, Royal Mail Group, in 2001, Post Office Counters Ltd became Post Office Ltd.[3]

Post Office Ltd has in recent years announced losses; a reported £102 million in 2006. This has raised many concerns in the media regarding Post Office Ltd's ability as a company to operate efficiently.[4] Plans to cut the £150m-a-year subsidy for rural post offices led to the announcement that 2,500 local post offices were to be closed. This announcement resulted in a backlash from local communities that relied on the service.

WH Smith Hounslow
A branch of W H Smith in Hounslow, incorporating a post office

In 2007, the government gave a £1.7 billion subsidy to Royal Mail Group so that it could turn a profit by 2011. This was to be used to invest across the whole network of Royal Mail, Post Office Ltd and Parcelforce. 85 Crown post offices were closed, 70 of which were sold to WHSmith. This followed a trial of six Post Office outlets in WHSmith stores. WHSmith was expected to make up to £2.5 million extra in annual profit. 2,500 sub-post offices closed between 2008 and 2009. Redundancy packages were provided from public funding (subpostmasters were paid over 20 months salary, roughly £65,000 each).[5]

In November 2010, the government committed £1.34 billion of funding up to 2015 to Post Office Ltd to enable it to modernise the Post Office network.[6]

As part of the Postal Services Act 2011, Post Office Ltd became independent of Royal Mail Group on 1 April 2012.[7] A ten-year inter-business agreement was signed between the two companies to allow post offices to continue issuing stamps and handling letters and parcels for Royal Mail.[8] The Act also contained the option for Post Office Ltd to become a mutual organisation in the future.[9]

On 8 February 2013, Post Office Ltd announced it was planning to move around seventy of its Crown post offices into shops. This would reduce the Crown network, which it stated was losing £40 million a year, to around 300.[10]

On 27 November 2013, the government committed an additional £640 million of funding for 2015 to 2018 to allow Post Office Ltd to complete its network modernisation.[11]

In April 2016, the Post Office agreed to hand over up to 61 more branches to W H Smith in a 10-year deal. The deal was condemned as “blatant back-door privatisation” by the Communications Workers Union.[12]

Services

Oxford StAldates PostOffice
Central Post Office in Oxford, Oxfordshire
Otley Post Office
Central Post Office in Otley, West Yorkshire

There are currently around 11,500 post office branches across the UK, of which 300 are directly managed by Post Office Ltd (known as Crown offices). The majority of other branches are either run by various franchise partners or local subpostmaster or operators (who may be members of the National Federation of SubPostmasters or the CWU Postmasters Branch), as "sub-postoffices".

The Post Office has a wide variety of services throughout the network of branches. Products and services available vary throughout the network; main post offices generally provide the full range of services.

In towns, post offices are usually open from around 09:00 to 17:30 from Monday to Friday and from 09:00 to 12:30 on Saturday. In some country areas, opening hours are much shorter – perhaps only four hours per week. In some villages an outreach service is provided in village halls or shops. There are also "mobile post offices" using converted vans which travel between rural areas.[13][14]

Many post offices are shut on Sundays and Bank Holidays. Some in smaller towns or villages are shut at lunchtime.

Postal services

Post Office interior
Interior of a post office, showing available merchandise

The Post Office provides information on services and accepts postal items and payment on behalf of the two collection and delivery divisions of Royal Mail Group, Royal Mail and Parcelforce. These include a variety of ordinary and guaranteed services both for delivery within the United Kingdom and to international destinations. Postage stamps (including commemorative stamps and other philatelic items) are sold, while applications for redirection of mail are accepted on behalf of Royal Mail.

Post Office Local Collect is a scheme whereby undelivered mail can be redirected at customer request to a post office for convenient collection. Poste Restante mail can also be held for collection by people travelling.

Financial services

The Post Office provides credit cards, current accounts, insurance products, mortgages and personal loans through the Post Office Money umbrella brand which was launched in 2015. Most Post Office Money branded products are provided by Bank of Ireland (UK) plc with Post Office Ltd acting as an appointed representative and credit broker.

Branch banking

Mobile Post Office - geograph.org.uk - 848566
A mobile post office in Borrowby, North Yorkshire.

Personal banking services are offered on behalf of a number of "partner banks" that the Post Office has agreements with. Although different services are available on behalf of different institutions, these may include cash withdrawals, paying in cash and cheques, and balance enquiries. Some post offices also have cash machines, mainly provided by Bank of Ireland.

Business banking services are also offered for customers of twenty different UK banks.[15] Services include balance enquiries, cash withdrawals, depositing cash and cheques, and giving change.

Bill payments

Corsham Post Office
Post Office in Corsham, Wiltshire

A number of bill payments can be accepted on behalf of a variety of organisations including utilities, local authorities and others. These are in the form of automated payments (barcoded bills, swipe cards, key charging). The Santander Transcash system, which had been a Girobank service, enabled manual bill payment transactions, but this service was discontinued by Santander in December 2017.[16]

Telephony

The Post Office operates as a provider of a home landline telephone service (branded as Post Office HomePhone) and has recently added broadband internet to its portfolio.

In June 2015 the Post Office launched its own mobile virtual network operator service, Post Office Mobile.[17] However, in August 2016 they decided "to conclude the trial as the results did not give us sufficient confidence that mobile will contribute to our goal of commercial sustainability".[18]

Mobile phone E Top-up is available on behalf of most networks. Post Office branded prepay phonecards are available, offering potential savings particularly on international call rates.

ID services

A passport check-and-send service is available for passport applications, where the post office staff check that a passport application is filled in correctly and has an acceptable photograph accompanying it. The service is not affiliated with HM Passport Office. Check-and-send service is not guaranteed service.[19]

The Post Office used to offer a check-and-send service with DVLA for the photocard driving licence. Some branches now offer a photocard driving licence renewal service.[20]

Fishing licences are issued on behalf of the Environment Agency from branches in England and Wales.

Selected branches issue international driving permits.

Post Office saving stamps

Post Office savings stamps were first introduced by Henry Fawcett in the 1880s but were phased out in the 1960s. These were re-introduced in August 2004 because of consumer demand. In 2010 saving stamps were withdrawn and replaced by the Budget Card.

Other services

Post offices not open to the public

Seven post office branches are not open to the public:[21]

Controversies

Horizon payment system errors

In April 2015, the BBC described a confidential report that alleged that the Post Office had made 'failings'.[22] The article claimed that an independent investigation by forensic accountants Second Sight had found that the Post Office had failed to identify the root cause of the accounting shortfalls in many cases before launching court proceedings against sub-postmasters.[23] The shortfalls could have been caused by criminals using malicious software, by IT systems or by human error, the report said. An earlier article[24] by the BBC had claimed that a confidential report contained allegations that the Post Office had refused to hand over documents that the accountants felt they needed to investigate properly, that training was not good enough, that equipment was outdated, and that power cuts and communication problems had made things worse. The Post Office has claimed that their system was not at fault.

In spite of the court action against its sub-postmasters, which was described by a judge as "aggressive and, literally, dismissive", the Post Office's chief executive Paula Vennells was controversially awarded a CBE in the 2019 New Year Honours for "services to the Post Office and to charity".[25]

See also

References

  1. ^ "The Post Office Network Report 2012" (PDF). The Post Office. p. 9. Archived from the original on 8 January 2013. Retrieved 19 March 2018.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  2. ^ "Policy: Ensuring the future of the universal postal service and Post Office network services". GOV.uk. 2013. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  3. ^ "Company Details: Post Office Ltd". Companies House. 2012. Retrieved 5 September 2012.
  4. ^ [1], The Times article analysing Post Office losses.
  5. ^ "Microsoft Word - CRC FINAL WORD.doc" (PDF). Publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  6. ^ "Future strategy". Bis.gov.uk.
  7. ^ Mackie, Lindsey; Glasman, Maurice (30 March 2012). "This cynical Royal Mail and Post Office divorce will bring only misery". The Guardian. London: GMG. ISSN 0261-3077. OCLC 60623878. Retrieved 5 September 2012. Post Office Ltd
  8. ^ Hope, Christopher (24 January 2012). "Fear of mass post office closures averted as Royal Mail agrees 10 year lifeline". The Telegraph.
  9. ^ Building a Mutual Post Office Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (retrieved 8 December 2012)
  10. ^ "Up to 70 Crown post offices to be moved into shops". BBC News.
  11. ^ "Post Office secures additional government investment to complete branch modernisation". Bis.gov.uk.
  12. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/apr/13/post-office-to-move-up-to-61-branches-to-wh-smith
  13. ^ "Post Office® mobile service | Royal Mail Group Ltd". Royalmail.com. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  14. ^ "Mobile Post Office | A lifeline for small rural communities …". Flickr. 30 October 2011. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  15. ^ https://www.postoffice.co.uk/branch-business-banking#tab-1
  16. ^ https://www.cipp.org.uk/news-publications/news/potcsbw.html
  17. ^ Gibbs, Samuel (8 July 2014). "Post Office launches mobile phone network through EE". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  18. ^ "Post Office Mobile | Order Free SIM". Post Office. Archived from the original on 7 August 2016. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  19. ^ "Passport Check Send". Post Office. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  20. ^ "UK Driving License Photocard Renewal". Post Office. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  21. ^ "Table 1: Branches not listed on the Branch Finder and open with restricted access" (XLS). Whatdotheyknow.com. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  22. ^ "Post Office 'failings' over cash shortfall investigations". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  23. ^ "Nick Wallis". Becarefulwhatyouwishfornickwallis.blogspot.co.uk. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  24. ^ "Post Office IT system criticised in report". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  25. ^ "Strictly business". Private Eye. London: Pressdram Ltd. 11 January 2019.

External links

Alice Perkins

Alice Elizabeth Perkins, CB (born 24 May 1949) is a former British civil servant. She was appointed in July 2011 as the Chairman of Post Office Ltd., a UK state-owned limited company, to lead the Board following the separation of the Post Office from the Royal Mail under the Postal Services Act 2011. She is an Executive Coach and a partner in the coaching practice of the JCA Group, a member of the Faculty of Meyler Campbell, which provides training for business coaches and has been an external member of the Council of the University of Oxford since 2006. She is a member of the Business Advisory Council of the Saïd Business School of the University of Oxford.

Allan Leighton

Allan Leighton (born 12 April 1953) is an English businessman, former CEO of Asda, former chief executive of Pandora, and former non executive chairman of the Royal Mail. He is the currently chairman of The Co-operative Group. He took up his post in February 2015. He is also the co owner of Brackley Town.

Energis

Energis Communications Limited, briefly Telecom Electric, or more usually just Energis, was a 'technology driven communications company' based in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The company was once a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index, but subsequently went into administration, and then became a subsidiary of Cable & Wireless, in turn acquired by Vodafone.

General Post Office

The General Post Office (GPO) was officially established in England in 1660 by Charles II and it eventually grew to combine the functions of state postal system and telecommunications carrier. Similar General Post Offices were established across the British Empire. In 1969 the GPO was abolished and the assets transferred to The Post Office, changing it from a Department of State to a statutory corporation. In 1980, the telecommunications and postal sides were split prior to British Telecommunications' conversion into a totally separate publicly owned corporation the following year as a result of the British Telecommunications Act 1981. For the more recent history of the postal system in the United Kingdom, see the articles Royal Mail and Post Office Ltd.

Originally, the GPO was a monopoly covering the despatch of items from a specific sender to a specific receiver, which was to be of great importance when new forms of communication were invented. The postal service was known as the Royal Mail because it was built on the distribution system for royal and government documents. In 1661 the office of Postmaster General was created to oversee the GPO.

Henry Chilver, Baron Chilver

(Amos) Henry Chilver, Baron Chilver FRS FREng (30 October 1926 – 8 July 2012) was a British engineer and politician.

Horizon (IT system)

Horizon is the name for a computer system used by part of the United Kingdom's postal service, Post Office Ltd. It has come under criticism since at least 2013 for errors in the system which, according to press reports, may have caused the loss of dozens of jobs, unnecessary prison sentences, bankruptcies and one documented suicide, and maybe some more to come. The system in 2013 was being used by at least 11,500 branches, and was processing some six million transactions every day.

International Computers Limited

International Computers Limited (ICL) was a large British computer hardware, computer software and computer services company that operated from 1968 until 2002. It was formed through a merger of International Computers and Tabulators (ICT), English Electric Leo Marconi (EELM) and Elliott Automation in 1968. The company's most successful product line was the ICL 2900 Series range of mainframe computers.

In later years, ICL attempted to diversify its product line but the bulk of its profits always depended on the mainframe customer base. New ventures included marketing a range of powerful IBM clones made by Fujitsu, various minicomputer and personal computer ranges and (more successfully) a range of retail point-of-sale equipment and back-office software. Despite significant sales in overseas markets, ICL's mainframe base was dominated by large contracts from the UK public sector. Significant customers included Post Office Ltd, the Inland Revenue, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Ministry of Defence. ICL also had a strong market share with UK local authorities and (at that time) nationalized utilities including the water, electricity, and gas boards. The company was eventually acquired by Fujitsu, and in April 2002 it was rebranded as Fujitsu.

The ICL brand is still used by the former Russian division of the company.

National Federation of SubPostmasters

The National Federation of SubPostmasters (NFSP) is an membership

organisation, which represents subpostmasters in the United Kingdom and is funded by Post Office Ltd.

The NFSP holds an annual conference but has no mandate.

It is the only organisation recognised by the Post Office .

However a freedom of information request answered by the Post Office Limited stated that “...the Post Office Ltd cannot recognise the National Federation of Sub Postmasters for collective bargaining purposes.”

Questions of the unions independence from Post Office Limited has been asked and a freedom of information request have revealed significant ongoing sums of money being paid to the NFSP by Post Office Limited. In particular funds to support the Network Transformation program road shows. While the NFSP support the NT program a BIS committee report has highlighted a number of flaws in the program which are detrimental to both the subpostmasters and the general public as such the independence of there support should be questioned.

Further evidence of the organisation's close relationship with the Post Office emerged from a lawsuit against the latter in November 2018, evidence revealing a 2013 email wherein the NFSP's then- Chief Executive

told the Post Office that an agreement between the two organisations that the NSFP would cease being a trades union would need to be "signed in blood"

.

Old Warden

Old Warden is a village and civil parish in Bedfordshire, England, just west of the town of Biggleswade. It has a population of 275, increasing to 328 at the 2011 Census. The village grew up under the protection of the Cistercian Wardon or Warden Abbey nearby.

Post Office (disambiguation)

A post office is a facility that is part of a postal network.

Post Office may also refer to several national postal services, including:

General Post Office, the former English and British postal service

Post Office Ltd, retail post office company in the United Kingdom

United States Post Office Department, the former U.S. postal service

United States Postal Service, the present U.S. postal service

Canada Post, the present Canadian postal serviceIt may also refer to:

St. Paul's tube station, originally known as Post Office from its position near the GPO East

Post Office (game), a kissing game played by boys and girls

The Post Office (play), a 1912 play by Rabindranath Tagore

Post Office (novel), a 1975 novel by Charles Bukowski

Post Office Money

Post Office Money is a financial services brand operated by Post Office Ltd which provides credit cards, current accounts, insurance products, mortgages and personal loans to customers in the United Kingdom through Post Office branches, the internet and telephone.Post Office Money was launched in 2015 to provide an umbrella brand for all financial services provided through Post Office Ltd. Most Post Office Money branded products are provided by Bank of Ireland (UK) plc with Post Office Ltd acting as an appointed representative and credit broker.

Postal Services Commission

The Postal Services Commission, known as Postcomm, was a non-ministerial department of the Government of the United Kingdom charged with overseeing the quality and universal service of post in the United Kingdom. It was established in 2000 under the Postal Services Act 2000. Postcomm was merged into the communications regulator Ofcom on 1 October 2011.

Most of Postcomm's role involved regulating Royal Mail (for letter delivery and to guarantee a universal postal service) and its two subsidiaries, Post Office Ltd and Parcelforce. Postcomm was also charged with the licensing of the UK's postal operators. It was set up alongside a 'sister' organisation, Postwatch, an independent watchdog for postal services. Postwatch became part of Consumer Focus on 1 October 2008.

In May 2008, Postcomm called for the part-privatisation of Royal Mail to safeguard the universal service. Following the Hooper Report into the future of the postal services industry, in October 2010, Business Secretary Vince Cable confirmed plans for the privatisation of up to 90% of the business and the possible mutualisation of the Post Office. Any purchasing business will be required to retain the universal service of collection and delivery of mail six days a week at affordable prices. Royal Mail staff are to be offered the remaining 10% shares with the Government to take on the group's pension liabilities. The changes were enabled by the Postal Services Act 2011. As part of the plans, the roles fulfilled by Postcomm were absorbed into the communications regulator Ofcom from 1 October 2011.

Postal order

A postal order is a financial instrument usually intended for sending money through the mail. It is purchased at a post office and is payable at another post office to the named recipient. A small fee for the service, known as poundage, is paid by the purchaser. In the United States, this is known as a postal money order. Postal orders are not legal tender, but a type of promissory note, similar to a cheque.

Postal savings system

Postal savings systems provide depositors who do not have access to banks a safe and convenient method to save money. Many nations have operated banking systems involving post offices to promote saving money among the poor.

Postal services in the United Kingdom

Postal services in the United Kingdom are provided predominantly by the Royal Mail and Post Office Ltd (which oversees post offices). Since 2006, the market has been fully opened to competition which has thrived in business-to-business delivery, but not in ordinary letter delivery.

The industry is regulated by Ofcom and consumer interests are represented by Consumer Focus. Since 1 October 2011, the main piece of legislation is the Postal Services Act 2011, although some parts of the Postal Services Act 2000 are still in force. The 2011 Act enables the government to privatise Royal Mail and to possibly mutualise Post Office Ltd.

Ronald Dearing, Baron Dearing

Ronald Ernest Dearing, Baron Dearing (27 July 1930 – 19 February 2009) was a senior civil servant before becoming Chairman and Chief Executive of the Post Office Ltd.

SA Post Office v Mampeule

SA Post Office Ltd v Mampeule is an important case in South African labour law, heard in the Labour Court.

William Hall, 2nd Viscount Hall

William George Leonard Hall, 2nd Viscount Hall of Cynon Valley (9 March 1913 - 24 July 1985) was a Welsh surgeon and businessman who was the first chairman of the Post Office.He was the son of George Hall, a mineworker who became a Labour Party member of parliament and cabinet minister. Hall won a scholarship to Christ College, Brecon, but left school to become a miner at the age of 15. He subsequently joined the Merchant Navy. He soon re-entered education, receiving medical training at University College Hospital and becoming a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons and

Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians.In 1938 he was appointed assistant medical officer for Merthyr Tydfil. He gave up the post in 1940, during the Second World War, becoming a Surgeon Lieutenant-Commander in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve.In 1946 he returned to civilian life, as a medical officer for the Powell Duffryn Group, a South Wales-based operator of coalmines (until 1947) and seaports. He quickly moved from a medical position to become a director. He later held a post as director of investments for Africa, Asia and the Middle East for the International Finance Corporation.His father was created Viscount Hall of Cynon Valley in 1946, and he inherited the title in 1965.In 1969 he was appointed the first chairman of the Post Office, a new statutory corporation that took over the duties of the General Post Office. His tenure was to be short, however. He had been appointed by John Stonehouse, Post-Master General in the Labour Party government of Harold Wilson. When the Conservative Party won the 1970 general election, Christopher Chataway, the new Minister for Posts and Telecommunications, dismissed him from his post. The decision was controversial, with a number of sympathy strikes by postal unions causing disruption to postal services.Hall re-entered private business as a director in a number of companies and was also an active member of the House of Lords.He was thrice married: to Joan Margaret Griffiths (died 1962) in 1938, to Constance Anne Garthorne Hardy (died 1972) in 1963 and to Marie-Colette Bach in 1975. He had no male heirs, and the title became extinct on his death.

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