1 in 5 people face isolation if rural post offices close
Citizens Advice research shows they’re at the heart of rural communities — and vital for innovative rural businesses.
There are few day-to-day tasks you can’t now do online. You can monitor your home’s energy use and open the door for parcel deliveries when you’re out. At the same time, fewer and fewer people live in rural areas. It would probably be no surprise to hear that post offices and bank branches, which provide physical access to essential services, are closing in rural areas.
But this is only half right.
Bank branches are closing
Over 1,500 have shut since 2015. In fact, the total number has more than halved over the past 30 years. Bank branches usually close when they have fewer customers (like in rural areas) or where they handle relatively low value transactions (like in deprived areas).
More and more of us are banking online. The share of people using internet banking regularly has risen from 30% of the population in in 2007 to 63% in 2017. But vulnerable people — such as older or disabled people — are particularly reliant on accessing banking and bank accounts in branches.
Post offices are not closing
You may be surprised to hear that in contrast to bank branches, the total number of post offices has remained flat since 2010 at around 11,600. There has been no closure programme. Instead, the government invested £2 billion in post offices to make them more sustainable. This has included support for 3,000 ‘community’ branches that are the last shop in a village. Thanks in part to this investment, there are more post offices in the UK than branches of all the high street banks combined.