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Access all areas?

14 July 2017

Access all Areas? [ 330 kb]

The UK’s post office network is approaching the end of the largest restructuring programme in its history. By the end of the Network Transformation Programme (NTP), over 7,000 branches will have been converted to new operating models.

Citizens Advice supports the NTP’s objectives. As the statutory consumer champion for post, we have conducted significant research on the NTP’s impact on service standards. This report is our first research on the physical impact of the NTP. We asked GIS consultants QuoteQ Solutions to model the expected shape of the network by April 2018. 

The results of the modelling indicate that by April 2018, the overwhelming majority of the population will have seen changes to their local post office. According to our analysis, nearly 8 out of 10 people’s nearest post office will be one of the new models - either a Post Office Main, Local, or Local Plus. 

Our modelling indicates the post office network will meet all the ‘access criteria’ set by the government. This is in part due to the designation of 3,000, mainly rural branches, as ‘community branches’ which receive subsidy from the government - funding which has not yet been confirmed to continue past 2018.

However, our research shows that the access criteria, measured ‘as the crow flies’, is a measure of distance which does not reflect the lived experiences of consumers who travel to post offices by road. Over 15 million people live more than twice as far from their nearest post office as the criteria might assume. Moreover, the criteria measure locations but not services. This could become an issue if services provided by post office outlets are curtailed in future.

In light of these concerns, and the evidence from this research, we make the following recommendations:

1. The Government should confirm appropriate funding for 2018-21 to maintain the current network.

2. Any future changes to the government’s access criteria should include additional measures to reflect real consumer experiences.