The National Federation of SubPostmasters (NFSP) and MP Marion Fellows (SNP) & Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Post Offices, are calling on the Government to reverse their decision to remove DVLA services from the Post Office network in the UK.
In a shock move, earlier this year, the Government announced its decision to remove all DVLA services from 31 March 2024.
Removing yet further face-to-face transactions will have an extremely negative impact on vulnerable and digitally excluded customers whilst also jeopardising the livelihood of 50,000 full-time equivalent employees who work in the post offices around the UK.
Losing this over-the-counter service is also another nail in the coffin for cash.
Across the UK, currently six million customers access DVLA services across Post Office counters. Half of those pay in cash.
Marion Fellows MP (SNP), Chair of the House of Commons All-Party Parliamentary Group on Post Offices, said: “My clear message to the UK government is that the decision to withdraw DVLA services from sub post offices is unacceptable.
“The Tory administration in Westminster has previously said that post offices would be the ‘front office’ of government in communities across the UK, yet this action is the opposite of that. We have seen unprecedented financial pressures on sub-post offices through Covid and the cost-of-living crisis.
“They need UK government support for the 50,000 equivalent full-time jobs they maintain.
“They are vital for people who need to use cash, and they provide a vital community hub for our high streets in these trying economic times. Latest research shows that the use of cash has actually increased, which may be as a result of the cost-of-living crisis.
“Many elderly people, or people with a disability, or people who are digitally excluded, need to use cash, and need face to face local services.
“Post offices provide this, and the UK government should be supporting that, not undermining it.
“The National Federation of SubPostmasters has a comprehensive and compelling case.
“Now the UK government must listen and reverse this incredible decision.”
Sue Judd, Non-Executive Director for Wales, said: “We have 969 Post Offices providing and supporting 2,830 jobs directly and indirectly in Wales.
“Post Offices play a vital role within our Welsh communities. Removal of DVLA services, such as tax, driving licences and international driving permits, is unfair and will marginalise many customers including the elderly and vulnerable who visit us with their preferred payment of cash.
“Many do not have online access nor the means to pay online and visit the Post Office to carry out their transactions. We also tax vehicles for customers who have been unsuccessful in submitting their car or van tax online and therefore visit the Post Office.
“Overall, this will surely have an effect on mental health and will not only weaken the financial position of our Post Office businesses but also may contribute to further Post Office closures.
“The Post Office is purportedly front office of Government. However, withdrawal of Government services from our Post Office Network has been in steady decline over the past 20 years.”
Gwyneth Millington, who runs a Mains Post Office in North Wales, said: “We provide a bilingual service and support the older customers who require support in completing paper forms. Our customers would be at such a loss if the service was removed.
“If not for the Post Office, I would not be able to tax my car, drive legally in the UK or be able to join my son on a moped in Thailand.”
In response to the Government’s decision, the NFSP have set out a campaign to raise awareness of this campaign and a petition to collect signatures called ‘Prevent Government from removing DVLA services from the post office from April 2024’.
Members of the public can sign the petition here but the NFSP are encouraging their customers to go into their local post office and physically sign an offline petition. This will support their local post office and protect this vital community service.
The NFSP hope to present a significant amount of signatures to Government and MPs on 2nd November this year so the issue can be debated in Parliament and presented at Downing Street to persuade them to reverse their decision.
If Government continues to remove services from Post Office counters, then the network will go the way of many of the banks and cease to exist on our High Streets and within our communities.”
Postmasters are self-employed businesspeople who have invested their own money into the Post Office network.
Collectively they employ around 50,000 full-time equivalent employees, who rely on their businesses to help them pay bills and provide for their families.
Last year, the network earned over £3m from providing DVLA services so at a time when there is a cost-of-living crisis, the loss of the DVLA income will hit Postmasters hard along with their ability to continue to employ staff.