East Devon's Post Office champion welcomes reprieve
EAST Devon District Council's Post Office Champion today welcomed news that the Government is to allow the Post Office to retain its £1 billion benefits contract – which gives a temporary reprieve to more than 3,000 branches that were thought to be in danger.
EAST Devon District Council's Post Office Champion today welcomed news that the Government is to allow the Post Office to retain its £1 billion benefits contract - which gives a temporary reprieve to more than 3,000 branches that were thought to be in danger.
In a House of Commons statement, Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell announced he was abandoning the procurement process that could have led to a private company winning the Post Office card account contract to distribute benefits to 4.3 million claimants.
The new contract will run from 2010, when the current contract runs out, until March 2015, with the possibility of an extension later.
Councillor Ken Potter said: "A battle has been won, but we now have three years in which to win the war! EDDC and our partners at Devon County Council are doing everything possible to help in creating a viable national network of 11,500 Post Office branches.
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"After the recent loss of 2,500 branches, thankfully the blood-letting will stop. It seems that the minister has at last seen sense and has responded to pressure from our communities to save rural and urban life in villages and towns nationwide".
The Post Office card account generates an income of around £200 million a year, which supporters see as a key part of the Post Office's income, as well as bringing customers into Post Offices to spend money on other purchases.
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The National Federation of Sub Post Masters had warned that 3,000 Post Office branches would close if the Post Office Card Account service was taken away.