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Public asked to suggest Community projects for local Post Offices in England

Press Release   •   Jul 18, 2013 23:00 BST

- Opportunity for public to have their say on new Post Office projects that benefit community.

- Local Post Office's can apply for funds of up to £10K

A competition launched today by Communities Minister Don Foster asks the public to suggest projects their local post office could start up to benefit the community, including mentoring for business start-ups, digital access and training, and display space for local producers. Successful schemes must be innovative and support the local community or small businesses in the area.

Working with local residents and community groups, sub-postmasters in England can now apply for up to £10k from a joint £200k Community Enterprise Fund from the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Post Office. Branches will suggest suitable projects, which must be not for profit but provide a service, activity or support that are easily accessible and open to all.

Launching the competition Communities Minister Don Foster said:

“Post Offices, just like pubs and local shops, are often at the heart of communities and I want to give them an even bigger role in bringing people together. This competition will reward people and Post Office branches that work together to put forward great ideas for ways to benefit the local community.

“This project builds on the government’s community rights agenda, giving local communities the power to protect local assets and influence how local services are run.”

Over 90% of the population lives within one mile of a Post Office, giving people easy access to a wide range of services that they need on a daily basis. For many people the Post Office offers a crucial link to the wider world.

Paula Vennells, Chief Executive of the Post Office said:

“This is an exciting project where branches can be really innovative about how to support those in the community with their everyday lives. It builds on the long heritage of the Post Office as a nationwide business but with each branch rooted in its community and responsive to the needs of local people.

“Many sub-postmasters already offer facilities and services which go far beyond their core business. We want to help many more branches to strengthen their role as a community hub, by providing additional services or facilities which help local people, or by using sub-postmaster’s commercial skills to offer support to local groups and businesses.“

In many places in England, especially in more rural areas, Post Offices already offer much more than the usual Post Office services such as government transactions, financial and postal services. A branch in the Cotswolds for example provides free internet access. Another in the North East is based in a disused pub and combines internet access with a health centre and a nursery.

The funds are available for sub-postmasters in English Post Office branches, working in consultation with their local communities. The competition is not open to Crown branches.

Members of the public who wish to suggest projects should speak to their local branch manager by Friday 18 October 2013. Details of branches can be found at www.postoffice.co.uk/branch-finder

DCLG and Post Office will convene a small judging panel comprising:

Department for communities and local government.

Post Office Ltd.

Other external organisations with expertise in this area.

Judging will take place in autumn with the successful schemes announced shortly after.

For more information on the Community Enterprise Fund, please go to www.postoffice.co.uk/community-enterprise-fund

Around 20 million customers a week and half of all small businesses are serviced in the Post Office each week. 99.7% of people live within three miles of their nearest Post Office outlet with 93.1% within a mile.

The Post Office already provides 170 different services and products spanning financial services including savings, insurance, loans, mortgages and credit cards. It also offers telephony; foreign currency; travel insurance and mail services.

Contact - Post Office, Press Office

About the Post Office

The Post Office (Post Office Limited) has an unrivalled national network of over 11,500 branches across the UK, more than all the high street banks combined, and sits at the heart of communities in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England. The Post Office has made a commitment to maintaining its network of branches at its current size and reach. It provides around 170 different products and services spanning financial services including savings, insurance, loans, mortgages and credit cards; Government services; telephony; foreign currency; travel insurance and mail services.

The Post Office serves over 17 million customers a week and a third of small businesses. Some 99.7% of the total population live within three miles of a post office and over 97% live with one mile of a post office. For many rural communities, the post office is the only retail outlet. Post Offices branches remain highly valued and trusted, and are the focal point of many communities. For more information, visit http://www.postoffice.co.uk/.

Please note the Press Office team can only deal with enquiries from the media.  Unfortunately they do not have access to customer information so can not help with customer enquiries.

If you have an enquiry regarding any Post Office product or service please visit postoffice.co.uk or call 0845Local call rates apply. Call costs may vary depending on your service provider. Calls may be monitored or recorded for training and compliance purposes. 611 2970.