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Two Post Offices shut each week as rural branches disappear

·2-min read
Post Office
Post Office

Rural communities risk being cut off from Post Office services after Covid massively accelerated branch closures.

Two Post Offices have closed their doors each week since the start of the pandemic, according to Citizens Advice.

Hundreds of branches that shut at the start of the pandemic have yet to reopen, the charity said. The number of closed branches has declined since the first lockdown, but there are still 206 fewer open than in September 2019.

About 80pc of the 1,291 "temporarily closed" Post Office branches have been shut for more than a year, while 60pc have been closed for more than two years, the report said.

Meanwhile a third of rural Post Offices now only offer part-time services, open for an average of just five and a half hours a week.

More than one in 10 of these "outreach" branches were open for only one hour a week, and in one location services were only available for 10 minutes a week.

The charity warned if the Post Office did not increase investment in rural locations communities would lose access to vital services.

Citizens Advice's Dame Clare Moriarty said: “Post Offices are at breaking point. Outreach services often aren’t an adequate replacement.”

Despite the ongoing closures, 18pc of people still visit their Post Office weekly, rising to 23pc in rural communities.

A spokesman for the Post Office said: “The Post Office does not accept that this report accurately reflects our network of 11,500 Post Offices that has been stable for a decade.

"Last year we responded to the pandemic with the fastest net growth in the network for decades. Sometimes branches do close, for example if a postmaster has decided to retire after many decades of service."

The spokesman said 99pc of the public live within three miles of a branch and 90pc within one mile.

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