Tuesday, 29 November 2016
Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
Post Office Network
413. To ask the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if further consideration will be given to the proposals to enable post offices provide additional services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36929/16]
The final report of the Post Office Network Business Development Group, which was published in January of this year, made a number of recommendations to support the future sustainability of post offices. These include recommendations in relation to the renewal of the post office network, the development of a basic payment account, the provision of motor tax services, and the creation of hubs around which local economic and social activity could revolve. The report also recommended that An Post should, following appropriate consultation with postmasters and others, review and amend the five-year strategy for the post office network.
The Programme for a Partnership Governmentcommits to acting on the recommendations in the report of the Post Office Network Business Development Group. A number of Working Groups have been established to progress the recommendations, including through the establishment of a Network Renewal Implementation Group, which is being independently chaired by Mr Bobby Kerr. This Group is examining the number and spatial distribution of post offices, branch modernisation, the streamlining of products and services, postmaster payments and contracts, and training and qualifications for post office employees. I anticipate that this work will conclude in the next couple of weeks.
I have separately established the Post Office Hub Working Group to identify potential models under which the post offices could act as community hubs, especially in rural areas. I have chaired a number of meetings of this group since July. The Group has concluded its deliberations and is currently finalising its report. In addition, my officials have been examining the potential for the post offices to deliver other services, including motor tax and financial services.
I intend to report to Government on these matters in the coming weeks.