The Irish post office network has the skills, capacity and willingness to provide additional services to the government in return for an investment which could take the form of an annual contractual fee.
This is the conclusion of an analysis of the economic contribution and the financial situation of the network carried out by Grant Thornton on behalf of the Irish Postmasters Union, which recommends that the government urgently invest in post offices.
The report finds that the annual financial deficit of the network now amounts to approximately 12 million euros.
This is less than the loss of revenue of 17 million euros estimated three years ago, the reduction being the consequence of the fact that post offices have in the meantime identified and developed new business opportunities.
These include advance export declaration parcels following Brexit, which brought in around 2.2 million euros, a new financial services partnership with the Bank of Ireland worth 650 000 euros per year and the transfer of reimbursement of the unemployment pandemic representing 2.2 million euros.
Nevertheless, the report asserts that the funding gap could be further closed if the government invests in the services provided by the postal network.
Of the 933 branches in the Irish postal network, 888 are run by independent postmasters who operate them as small businesses, while 45 are operated by An Post.
“Over the past two or three years, the post office network has continued to evolve through investment in its staff and expanding its range of services,” the report said, adding that it could provide further services.
He says there is a wealth of untapped resources within the post office network and given the opportunity and investment, he can continue to provide solutions to modern challenges for the government.
These include the expansion of identity verification features to combat fraud and help process applications, as well as to help improve the efficiency of government services through form management and generation. .
“The withdrawal of foreign banks from the Irish market and the closure of local branches by domestic banks has had a very significant economic and social impact on rural and urban communities across the country,” said Seán Martin, Chairman of the Irish Postmasters Union. .
“Around 540 post offices in Ireland are located in areas where there are no banks within a 5km radius. Banking services accessible to all should be a fundamental right and it can be fulfilled through our extensive network .”
The IPU also asserts that identification services for passports and driving licenses and maintenance of the electoral register could and should be provided by local post offices.
“We could also be used for other government financial services, including as a central hub for processing and distributing renovation grants,” Martin said.
The report says a shift in consumer behavior, driven by trends such as the rise of remote working, will mean people will need services where they work and live, including in rural areas and city centers. -cities.
The analysis also suggests that post offices could help the government meet national climate action targets, as it would limit the time spent traveling to local communities.
Post offices could also contribute to rural renewal and the development of local communities, according to the study.
This report concludes that if an annual contractual fee were to be paid by the government in return for providing new services to all citizens, this would enhance the social value of the network.
It would also play an important role in supporting local economies, due to the multiplier effect that a local post office brings to local businesses and would support social inclusion by accessing basic citizen services, especially for those who do not transact online.