FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry has blasted the decision by Barclays to stop its customers getting cash through Post Offices, saying the decision will hurt small firms and shoppers nationwide.
Responding to the launch of the House of Commons Businesses, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee’s ‘Future of the Post Office Network’ report, he’s called on the bank to think again.
He said: “At a time when high streets are struggling, and banks are shutting branches, the role of the Post Office in local communities has never been more crucial. But this important cross-party report makes clear, in no uncertain terms, that our post offices are not receiving the support they need.
“The Post Office cannot fulfil the vital role we need it to play in improving financial inclusion unless the banks are fully behind it. Barclays’ decision to stop its customers accessing cash at post offices will hurt small business owners and shoppers all over the county – especially in rural areas. The bank must think again.
“The fact that sub-postmasters are now struggling to make ends meet and unable to take holidays is not acceptable. Sub-postmasters run businesses that are central to the success of local communities. They should be recognised as such.
“The outsourcing of Crown Post Office services to WH Smith needs to be watched carefully. If this business is going to continue to play a central role in the PO network, it needs to sign the Prompt Payment Code and make an unequivocal commitment to responsible supply chain practice.
“More broadly, there is a bigger conversation to be had about how we create a financial services network that is both comprehensive and commercially viable. The Committee is absolutely right to talk about using the post office network as a foundation for building true community hubs – these should encompass Wi-Fi lounges, meeting spaces for small businesses and access to Local Enterprise Partnership and Growth Hub resources.
“Between the Post Office, banks, Treasury, regulators, local government, card issuers, ATM companies, LINK and broadband providers, there are certainly enough actors in the financial inclusion space. The challenge is getting them to effectively collaborate to the benefit of all.”