21 October 1999
Help rural post offices, urges Kirkwood

by FWi staff

RURAL post offices should be subsidised by the government to prevent thousands going out of business, says a Liberal Democrat MP.

Archie Kirkwood is so concerned that 200 rural post offices close each year, he has tabled an adjournment debate for today in Parliament.

Plans to automate benefit payments, which are the bread and butter of many rural post offices, will make the situation even worse, says Mr Kirkwood.

Speaking on Radio 4s Farming Today, Mr Kirkwood said the government should recognise of public service provided by rural post offices.

He said that 5000 were on the edge of financial viability, and that current benefit payment arrangements generate 35 percent of income rural.

“If that is taken away that 5000 figure will increase dramatically.”

Mr Kirkwood said many people running rural post offices continued even after retirement age to provide a service to neighbours.

“The element of public service in network at moment and government has a duty to recognise that and find ways to support the network.

“They must have plans to replace income taken away if Giro books taken away in 2003.”