A radical revolution in the way council services are delivered was signalled today as Hammersmith & Fulham Council announced a groundbreaking partnership with Post Office Ltd.
Unveiling bold plans to make council services available to all Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) residents across the entire UK Post Office network - including 17 local branches - the new Leader of H&F Council, Cllr Nicholas Botterill, said:
“This ground-breaking partnership is a match made in heaven.
“This innovative arrangement offers residents much more choice and convenience as council services will be accessible from thousands of locations nationwide instead of just one or two locally. We are increasing choice, saving taxpayers’ cash and our local Post Office branches will have many more customers coming through their doors.
“Instead of having to traipse all the way to Hammersmith Town Hall, we want residents to be able to pop around the corner to buy a book of stamps and access council services.”
H&F residents will soon be able to access a range of council services from any UK Post Office including payments for council tax, business rates, housing rents and service charges. The arrangement can also be extended in the future to include more services like parking permits and outbound payments (e.g. for people without bank accounts).
The contract is expected to go live in H&F by the end of the year and will initially save taxpayers around £90,000 a year from 2013/14.
In a UK first, H&F Council has signed a ‘pan-London framework agreement’ with Post Office bosses with the framework agreement also being made available for other London boroughs to join so that their residents can also benefit.
“Many residents are happy to interact with the council by using our website but many thousands - particularly the vulnerable and elderly - are not,” continues Cllr Botterill. “If more authorities sign up to the deal, that we and the Post Office have brokered, we could make council services more accessible than ever while saving taxpayers millions.”
Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said: "If all councils followed Hammersmith & Fulham's lead we would save taxpayers' millions of pounds, make it easier for residents to access services and boost our Post Offices."
Richard Gutsell, Director of Government Sales, Post Office Ltd, said:
“Teaming up with H&F Council to provide a pioneering initiative that further enhances our position on the high street is a testament to our commitment to our customers, following a network transformation announcement earlier this year. Our £1.34billion investment will
deliver an unparalleled infrastructure which makes Post Office a very attractive channel of delivery for Government services and makes them even more accessible for the local community at reduced cost.
“For many, the Post Office is the most important and sometimes the only means of availing of public services so we want to make this provision as accessible as possible and we believe this new framework will enable us to do so. This success is particularly important for us, as H&F are one of our 25 innovative Pathfinder councils who are looking at the best ways that councils can link with their local post office branches.”
Post Office Ltd is undertaking the largest investment and network support programme in its history with £1.34billion committed to new, more modern branches for the next three years and no further programme of branch closures.
As part of the programme, approximately 6,000 will be transformed to new style branches with longer opening hours and a brighter more modern environment.