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Struggling postmasters are to get salary boost to stop post offices closing in major victory for Mail campaign

05 Nov 2019, 09:50 ... osing.html

Beleaguered postmasters are to get a £3,200 salary boost to stop post offices closing.

The Post Office revealed plans to increase total fees paid to the men and women who run 11,500 branches by £37million following an urgent review.

This is a 10 per cent rise on current levels and equates to an average pay rise of about £3,200 for postmasters across the country.

It includes £17million in higher pay for 2,500 rural post offices announced over the summer.

But annual fees for postmasters, including another 1,000 based in small villages, will rise by another £20million from April.

It marks a victory for the Daily Mail, which is campaigning to keep post offices open.

One of the Mail’s key demands was for postmasters to be paid fairly to reflect the vital services they provide and the long hours they work.

Increasingly, they have become a lifeline to those who live in rural communities as banks shut local branches.

Local post offices are run as independent businesses, and Post Office Ltd – a Government-owned firm – pays postmasters a fee for each transaction they complete.

But fees for everything from selling a stamp, receiving a package for delivery, processing a banking transaction or renewing a passport have fallen by £118million to £365million a year since 2012.

Nick Read, chief executive of the Post Office, said: ‘Post Office branches are the backbone of our business and the heart of their communities. The retail landscape is tough, and the dedication postmasters show day in, day out must be properly remunerated.’

Andy Furey, of the Communication Workers Union (CWU), welcomed the news, but added: ‘Why do they have to wait until April?

‘This continues to demonstrate a lack of urgency to address acute problems postmasters face now. This is simply papering over ever-growing cracks. The increase does not compensate postmasters for savage attacks on their earnings.

‘Postmasters desperately need significantly better earnings to arrest the situation whereby closures are occurring almost daily.’

Lib Dem MP Tim Farron said: ‘For lots of communities, post offices... are a lifeline, particularly as banks shut branches.

‘Any increase in what postmasters receive is welcome, but this does not make up for the pay cuts they have suffered.’

Last week, Barclays reversed its decision to prevent customers withdrawing money from post offices following a Mail campaign.

‘Brilliant news – but I’ll believe it when I see it!’

By Glen Keogh for the Daily Mail

Village postmistress Shann Rodgers said she will be ‘absolutely ecstatic’ to get the substantial pay boost.

The 61-year-old, who runs the post office in the small Cornish village of Goldsithney, feared having to close over funding issues.

The only reason she didn’t was her loyalty to elderly customers, she said.

But news of a salary boost of about £3,200 would make a huge difference, she said, adding: ‘If my pay increases by the amount suggested, that would be absolutely brilliant.

‘But until I see it on my payslip I don’t believe it. It seems a huge jump. The Post Office is not normally that generous, and neither is the Government!’

Mrs Rodgers has run the post office, which serves the village’s 1,500 residents, for 17 years, although there has been one there for a century.

But her salary has fallen from £25,000 to £18,000 thanks to how bosses fund rural branches.

She praised the Mail’s efforts to support local post offices, adding: ‘The Daily Mail’s campaign has been excellent.

‘We are a public service, but the Post Office and the Government don’t seem to have appreciated that.’

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