Published: 10:10, 21 January 2021
| Updated: 10:13, 21 January 2021
A sub-postmaster is relieved that the extension of Government subsidy means the future of his Post Office branch is secure for another year.
Tim Chapman runs the small village branch in Yalding and last year he raised the alarm of the potential discontinuation of the Core Tier Payment which helps keep unprofitable post counters open.
Sub-postmasters and unions warned that without the subsidy being renewed many branches in communities across Kent would simply close because they would no longer be economically viable.
Now Mr Chapman says the Post Office has confirmed to him that the funding he receives - around £1,000 per month - will continue until March 2022.
"I'm pleased and so are our customers," he said.
"It's only for another year, but everybody is very pleased. It's good news for Yalding."
Government subsidy is paid to Post Office Ltd and is designed to cover the operating costs of the post office network. According to the National Federation of Sub-Postmasters, the total amount of subsidy has been cut from £210 million in 2012/13 to £50 million in 2020/21.
Towards the end of last year, following the Comprehensive Spending Review, it was announced that the £50 million subsidy would be renewed for a further 12 months, protecting access to services in what are described as "commercially challenging locations."
Nick Read, chief executive at the Post Office, said: "I am delighted the Government has recognised that post offices are a critical part of the country's essential infrastructure, supporting millions of people and small businesses with access to everyday banking, mails and parcels services.
"The work postmasters have done throughout the Covid-19 pandemic is a powerful reminder just how important having a post office is not just to people in local communities but to the thousands of small businesses which keep the economy going."
Postal affairs minister Paul Scully said: "The £227 million funding the Government has provided through the Spending Review extends the network subsidy at £50 million and provides Post Office with £177 million to invest in the future of the network.
"This will ensure that post offices in every corner of the country, including our vital rural branches, can keep providing essential services for the people that rely on them - now and in the future."