The Department made copies of the consultation document on the Post Office network available to Members of Parliament on 14 December. The document is also available electronically through the DTI and Directgov websites. Copies have also been sent to a wide range of stakeholder groups. Copies of the document may be copied and circulated freely.
Welsh language copies of the document are available. Versions have also been prepared and distributed to the RNIB and individuals in Braille, audio tape and large print.
A team of eight officials are involved in developing Government policy for the Post Office network and have been involved in preparing the consultation document. Some 50 members of staff are available to deal with the handling of responses to the consultation document.
The question the hon. Member has asked relates to operational matters for which Post Office Ltd (POL) is directly responsible. The company has provided the following figures relating to the numbers of post office branches in the constituency. There are 42 post office branches in the Cotswold constituency, 40 classified as rural and two classified as urban. The information is placed in and available from the Library of the House.
The Government’s support helps Post Office Ltd to cover the fixed element of sub-postmasters’ pay and to meet infrastructure costs such as IT operating costs, cash distribution, direct marketing, and the agents’ information help line. As the Government’s subsidy for the network is used to cover the costs incurred by Post Office Ltd in maintaining an uncommercial network rather than specific branches, the funding is not directly attributed to individual post offices.