The boss of the Post Office has said that local branches might have to close if the Chancellor does not extend support on energy bills past the current March deadline.
Nick Read said that Post Offices are helping millions of Britons access help on their energy bill during the current crisis and urged the Government to think about any knock-on effects of closures.
“Post Office exists to serve communities, keeping people and businesses connected. It’s what we do – it’s in our DNA,” the chief executive said.
“Two years ago, during the Covid pandemic lockdowns, post offices stayed open to make sure people could carry on with the essentials of daily life.”
He said that the current energy support package for businesses and public organisations is “essential” for many post offices to stay open.
But the support is set to be reviewed and changed in April – with large cuts to the level of the support widely expected.
“Current Government support on energy costs is essential to many post offices staying open,” Mr Read said.
“If that support ends next March, make no mistake the future looks very challenging for many postmasters and the shops they run serving local customers.
“I therefore urge the Chancellor, as he puts the finishing touches to his Autumn Statement, to consider the significant impact that not extending the Energy Bill Relief Scheme to post offices would have on communities across the UK.”
It comes as Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will present the autumn statement on Thursday, which is widely expected to include tax increases and perhaps news on energy support for both households and businesses.
Households with some kind of pre-payment meters are currently required to go into post offices or convenience shops to redeem vouchers from the Government worth £400 this winter.
“The Post Office is fundamental in our daily life, so much so that it is at risk of being taken for granted,” Mr Read said.
“It is now up to the Government to decide whether to support postmasters through the extension of the Energy Bill Relief Scheme. Let’s not overlook the impact of post offices and help Britain stay connected.”