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Post Offices

Volume 471: debated on Monday 28 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform by what means his Department defines (a) rural, (b) deprived urban and (c) remote communities in the minimum access criteria for the Post Office Network Change Programme. (181471)

The Government’s response to the national public consultation on the post office network in May 2007 set out the definitions supporting the minimum access criteria for the post office network. The definition of a rural area is a settlement of less than 10,000 inhabitants. Deprived urban areas are defined as the most deprived 15 per cent. of super output areas in England, 15 per cent. of data zones in Scotland, and 30 per cent. of super output areas in Wales and Northern Ireland to take account of the proportional spread of disadvantaged areas across the UK.

There is no departmental definition of a remote area as no access criteria relates solely to ‘remote’ areas. Alongside the Government’s national access criteria, is the criterion that 95 per cent. of the population in every postcode district should be within six miles of a post office service. Implicit in this criterion is a safeguard for people in remote areas who might otherwise not have been assured of reasonable accessibility to services under nationally-applied criteria alone.