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Fears for Rural Post Offices as network loses BBC contract

[Wednesday 12 April 2006]

NEWS that the BBC has replaced the Post Office as its supplier of services for TV Licensing has got countryside campaigners worried.

The Corporation believes that the new contract will save it £100 million over the course of a six-year contract with PayPoint - but, the move has raised further concerns about the viability of the rural Post Office network without this valuable source of income.

Just over two per cent of Post Office income is currently derived from over-the-counter sales of TV licences and over 300,000 rural people are thought to purchase their licence from the Post Office.

Countryside Alliance Chief Executive Simon Hart commented: "This is the latest in a series of announcements which threaten the sustainability of [the] rural Post Office network.

"The Government recently announced that it is to withdraw the Post Account Card for the payment of benefits and has consistently failed to commit to the £150 million subsidy to maintain the rural Post Offices after 2008.

"While the BBC's decision is understandable in commercial terms, the Post Office network has a huge social value which is not measurable in purely economic terms. The cost to the Post Office of losing over 300,000 post office visits will be far greater than just the value of the contract.

"Now more than ever, the Government needs to re-affirm its social commitment to the Post Office network and the universal delivery infrastructure that it supports".

Following a transitional period of three months, all over-the-counter TV licence payments will move from the Post Office to PayPoint from 31st July.

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