Jack of all trades, (post)master of none: the PO gets new services
The Post Office has been a beleaguered thing for too long, staring at everyone sending emails and wondering how it can compete. Getting Westlife in for some adverts didn't work (obviously).
However, in an attempt to become relevant once more, post offices will now be open for longer as well as allowing customers to access their current account and offer information for jobseekers. Customers will be able to use counters and computer screens to access their current accounts held with other banks (notably, the ones that are state-backed as well as RBS and NatWest accounts).
So what else have the government got lined up for our humble post offices?
Well, we could well see more online services as well as self-service computer points in branches (which presumably has been hatched up to tackle the problems of queues). These Post Office proposals are separate from the plan for Royal Mail, which is looking increasingly like it will be privatised, which some quarters feel will kill off our post offices.
Billy Hayes, general secretary of the Communication Workers Union, said the sale of up to 90% of Royal Mail, coupled with rumours that the payment of benefits is to be handed to a private firm, would deny post offices the "oxygen" they needed to survive.
"If you take away the oxygen of the Royal Mail from Post Office Counters, if you take away the welfare contract, you are going to kill the post office network," he told the BBC. In fairness, the post office is already being killed off by people using online services.
Next week: The government randomly put coffee shops in post offices.