, Political editor
Thursday, November 15, 2012
The survival of Norfolk’s Post Office branches has been boosted after the UK-wide network won the contract to administer car tax and driving licence applications.
It has been estimated that UK Post Office branches could make £450m over the next ten years running the services for the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA); crucial funding as income from postage is in decline.
Local MPs who have been campaigning for the Post Office to be given more government contracts in order to help make branches viable welcomed the move.
Norwich North MP Chloe Smith said: “Local Post Offices sit at the heart of community life, and this decision will make life easier for everyone who drives in and around Norwich.”
Earlier this year Norwich South MP Simon Wright wrote to the Department for Transport urging ministers there to award the DVLA contract to the Post Office.
He said: “The success of the Post Office in winning these contracts demonstrates the important role of its branch network in bringing government services closer to the public.”
The Post Office has also recently won a contract to provide services for the UK Borders Agency, meanwhile in September the bank HSBC announced plans to offer access to their current accounts at branches from spring 2013.
However, the new contract will see the Post Office providing DVLA services until 2020, with the option for a three year extension.
Meanwhile Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said the new contract would save the taxpayer between £13m and £15m a year.
North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb said: “I’ve had many letters from constituents who were worried that their Post Office was in danger of losing this vital service, so I am extremely pleased that the Post Office bid has been successful.
“Post Offices are a vital part of our communities here in Norfolk and this news, along with the coalition’s commitment to invest £1bn in the network, helps to put them on a more sustainable footing for the future.”