A new report from Citizens Advice shows people in rural areas are more likely than their urban counterparts to depend on their local post office for key services, including postal services, banking, collecting state benefits, pensions and purchasing household goods.
As the number of pubs, banks and shops decline across England, the charity is calling on government to commit to continued funding of these crucial community institutions.
The government’s decision on funding the postal network, including important rural services, has not yet been confirmed following a public consultation from December 2016.
As the statutory watchdog for postal consumers, Citizens Advice is calling on government to publish its consultation response and commit appropriate funding for the next three years to ensure rural post offices remain open.
As other public spaces dwindle in rural areas, a poll of over 800 rural residents found over a quarter of people rely on their local post office for learning about local events and services.
The survey also found 1 in 5 people said they would lose contact with neighbours or friends if it wasn’t for their local post office. This was particularly important for people over 65 years old, people with a disability, carers and those who are digitally excluded.
Small businesses also rely on post offices more in rural areas with 7 out of 10 anticipating they would have higher costs without their post office and 8 out of 10 says it would take more time.
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:
“With pubs and banks closing up shop in many rural areas, post offices remain crucial community institutions. This is especially true for vulnerable groups like older people, people with a disability, carers and those who do not have access or the skills to use the internet.
“That is why we’re calling on the government to ensure vulnerable groups are protected by confirming funding for the postal network, including crucial rural post offices.”