Postmaster conference - April 2021

April marks the start of a new financial year for Post Office. We held our very first annual We Are Post Office Postmaster conference on 27 April. Our focus was to discuss our strategic intent to 2025 and the key projects for the year ahead. 

Many Postmasters want to know about the future of Post Office, it is a topic you raised in the Postmaster consultation survey and often ask Area Managers about. If you were unable to attend, you can watch the conference video below.

There were over 300 comments or questions received during the session. Questions answered at the conference covered Mails Distribution Agreement, network formats, IT and future of Horizon and more. We will respond to remaining questions below. Answers for specific questions relating to consultation on the proposed remuneration structure for the Mails Distribution Agreement will be answered here.

 

At the conference, you heard Nick talk about his Intent for Post Office 2025:

 

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And you heard Amanda outline our key priorities for 2021/22:

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Postmaster conference – Q&A

Postmasters asked over 300 questions at the Conference held on 27 April. Please find below a summary of the key themes raised. We’ll be responding to other questions asked on this page soon.


Proposed remuneration structure for the Mails Distribution Agreement

Consultation on the proposed remuneration structure is underway. In response to your feedback, we have extended the consultation period to 6 June to give you more time to digest and give your views.

Area Managers are visiting Postmasters and so far, have met with 1,800 Postmasters, to discuss how the proposed remuneration rates could impact you.

Next month, Postmasters will see improvements in remuneration to reflect the Royal Mail tariff increases made in January 2021.

Our Chief Executive Nick Read responded to questions about the consultation, and Business Transformation Director Nick Beal responded to concerns raised about special delivery, Parcelforce and the data period used for the branch reports provided to you.

Nothing is set in stone and we want to hear you views, ideas and suggestions during this consultation process, so please do give your feedback.

Answers to further MDA questions will be available here.


Growing our network and future formats

During the conference, we discussed our intention to grow the network to over 12,000 branches by 2025. This year, we will start small scale of pilots to test a range of formats. The formats will offer greater flexibility for our franchise partners, trialling new technology such as hand-held devices, to offer a more streamlined provision of services. These pilot formats introduce shorter product journeys, so less time is needed for training and carrying out transactions. They also offer space saving designs that free up floorspace.

Our priority is to ensure that these new formats strengthen our existing network, working in partnership with our postmasters, to deliver a more commercially sustainable Post Office, offering customers the right services, in the right locations. Locations will be carefully selected based on where customer demand and competition is, not close to existing branches.

We are keen to take expressions of interest from Postmasters who would like to participate in the roll out of these new formats in the future. We are working through this and will provide further guidance soon.

Martin Edwards Network Strategy and Delivery Director answered a series of questions from Postmasters. We'll keep you updated on this.


Banking services

Ross Borkett, Head of Banking responded to questions around Banking framework and Poca.

The negotiations on the Banking Framework agreement are well underway and we're working hard to get the best deal for Postmasters.

DWP are continuing to close POca as early as November 2021, they will begin moving POca customers who do not open a different bank, credit union or building society account to a voucher service from early to mid-2021. Through Branch focus you will have seen we have created information leaflets to support you with your conversations, including our new POca information leaflet and Essential Banking leaflet.

The latest updates on other banking questions submitted, such as updates on ATMs, Nationwide deposits, Monzo joining the framework and banking technology are already available in Martin Kearsley's banking blog which is published monthly here. Further updates will be available through Martin’s blog.


Remuneration

Securing rewarding remuneration remains the top priority for most Postmasters. Chief Executive Nick Read set out his intent on the future direction of our business which includes long-term profit sharing with Postmasters. The immediate priority is to get this right for mails remuneration.  We will also work to become a commercially sustainable network that does not depend upon government subsidy.

Postmasters asked where are the increases in remuneration. And further questions and comments were raised on the concerns on rising rent and living costs.

We will ask Area Managers to support with responding to further questions around remuneration.


Branch technology

Nick set out his intention to transform branch technology and replace Horizon. A programme is underway to design a new, modern IT system.

Jeff Smyth, our Chief Information Officer responded to a series of questions about future technology, which must be designed and built with Postmasters, for Postmasters. Engagement is due to commence soon. The new technology will underpin the future of our network, moving away from the large, one-size-fits-all-branches Horizon terminals to offering a greater variety of devices, all operating a modern, best-in-class EPOS.

We will keep you updated on developments to current technology as we build out future technology through our monthly IT blog here.


Mails services

Our new Mails agreement means we are able to open our network to other parcel carriers.

A series of questions were asked around how our current trial is going and when other carriers will be onboarding. Amanda Jones responded on the trial which is currently underway in 200 branches.

Further questions asked including Drop and Go and product developments, mails segregation and updates on the current trial will be shared through Managing Director for Mails, Mark Siviter’s regular blog here.