“The network change programme has been implemented in a way which has met most of its targets and the closures are nearly complete with 98 per cent already done. But communication around the programme could have been better, and there is still work to do to complete the late running Outreach services, which are designed to provide facilities to communities where conventional post offices have been closed.”
1. In May 2007 the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform approved plans to close up to 2,500 post offices run by sub-postmasters, partly offset by at least 500 new Outreach services, leaving a network of around 12,000 outlets. The closures are known as the Network Change Programme, which is part of a larger plan aimed at returning Post Office Ltd to profitability by 2010-11, after allowing for a £150 million annual Government subsidy. This plan also includes action to improve efficiency and Post Office Ltd’s financial performance, and to sustain revenues, in part by developing significant new revenue streams. The plan is being supported by funding of up to £1.7 billion over five years from BERR, including the £150 million annual subsidy payment in recognition of the social and economic role that post offices play.
2. Press notices and reports are available from the date of publication on the NAO website, which is at www.nao.org.uk. Hard copies can be obtained from The Stationery Office on 0845 702 3474.
3. The Comptroller and Auditor General is the head of the National Audit Office which employs some 900 staff. He and the NAO are totally independent of Government. He certifies the accounts of all Government departments and a wide range of other public sector bodies; and he has statutory authority to report to Parliament on the economy, efficiency and effectiveness with which departments and other bodies have used their resources. This report has been made by Tim Burr, who was Comptroller & Auditor General until 31 May 2009. He was succeeded by Amyas Morse on 1 June 2009.