Could Postmaster salary cuts be causing Harrogate Post Offices to be put up for sale?
The Post Office has defended changes to its postmasters' salaries as it transpired that another Harrogate are a branch has been put up for sale.
Birstwith’s Dales Store and Post Office is currently advertised for sale on a number of online property sites.
The news comes as Harrogate faces contentious plans to downgrade the town centre’s Crown Post Office, and only months after the latest postmaster shut up shop on Cold Bath Road.
The Post Office says it is committed to keeping its vital services on high streets, but the National Federation of Sub Postmasters (NFSP) says that salary cuts and rising costs could be one reason rural and community Post Office are being put up for sale.
Keith Richards, Network Support at the NFSP said: “Salaries have been reduced and realigned as part of a government strategy which started back in 2012.
“Before there were two parts to the salary - one for the bricks and mortar and the other for transactions but the government decided to encourage Post Offices to move into retail premises or grow a retail element to the business in order to make it transaction-based only and remove the first part of the payment.”
He added: “There’s a number of reasons why they could be closing, one could be reduction in salary and obviously if they have rising costs if they don’t have a large retail part with it, it becomes an unsuccessful business.
“There are others who are closing because of age and retirement and can’t sell for whatever reason and again it could be because it is difficult to find somebody to take it over.”
But Mr Richards said customer behaviour had a part to play, and while salary cuts hadn’t helped, costs of services had gone up.
A spokesperson for the Post Office said: “We recognise that all retailers face a challenge in ensuring that their costs are met, and through our recent modernisation programme, we have invested heavily in enabling retailers to operate their businesses more efficiently.
"Part of the changes include moving onto a new contract from a fixed “core tier payment” to one based on fees for the relevant products and services transactions.
"We believe the fees within the remuneration package are fair and reflect the competitive commercial environment.
"98 per cent of Post Offices are on on an agency or franchise basis and it’s a model that works through delivering the benefits of shared overheads and footfall.
"Our network cannot stand still as we continue to respond to unprecedented changes on our high streets, and working with retailers provides an opportunity to secure long-term sustainability.”