This briefing paper answers common questions about the Post Office – covering its network, funding, modernisation and services.

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The Post Office was separated from Royal Mail in 2012, and is owned by the UK Government. The Post Office has been undergoing a major network transformation programme. The company has been reforming itself in order to become more self-sustaining. This has included reducing central costs, increasing revenues, and modernising branches in the network.

The Post Office reported its first annual trading profit in sixteen years in 2016/17 – in 2017/18, trading profit increased to £35million. However Post Office revenues have fallen slightly over the last few years, largely the result of the reduction in Government Network Subsidy Payments.

Between 2010 and 2017, the Government allocated £2 billion to fund the Post Office’s modernisation and transformation programme. In December 2017, the Government agreed a new funding package of £370million for the Post Office to run till 2021. As part of this funding package, the Government Network Subsidy Payment continues to be reduced.

Modernisation has seen the number of Crown Post Offices, those run directly by the Post Office, decrease in recent years. Some branches have been franchised to partners such as WHSmith. Many non-Crown Post Offices have been converted, moved or modernised into new types of branches.

The number of post offices has been relatively stable since 2009, though the overall network size has declined since the 1980s. The Library has a separate briefing on the number of Post Offices over time

Horizon software

The Post Office Horizon IT system issue has been a long, complicated and contested saga.

There have been debates in Parliament in relation to the Post Office and Horizon software issue which the Library has produced debate material for.

The Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Select Committee is currently undertaking an inquiry on the Post Office and Horizon. An evidence session was conducted on Tuesday 13 March 2020

  • Commons Research Briefing CBP-7550
  • Authors: Lorna Booth, Niamh Foley
  • Topics: Communities

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