News for Branch and Regional Secretaries and National Council
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Branch Secretary newsletter: August 2016 

In the newsletter this month... 

  1. Welcome
  2. Active NFSP branches
  3. Post Office annual statement
  4. Travel Money and MoneyGram
  5. Postmaster financial helpline
  6. New ACS high street barometer report
  7. August Subpostmaster mag
  8. New Post Office Minister
  9. NFSP conference 2017
  10. Post Offices in the media
  11. Social media news
  12. Upcoming events
  13. New NFSP resources


Welcome to the first edition of the newly revamped branch secretary monthly newsletter. Below you will find news from the NFSP and updates from the sector in general. We want to make sure this newsletter is as relevant for you as possible. Please let us know here what you would like to see more of (or less of) in this newsletter.

Active NFSP branches

The NFSP has been through a period of change. Now the NFSP’s future is more secure, we want to build on the support we provide to you and our membership as a whole. A critical part of this is supporting you to build up our branch structure.

Tracy (Tig) our Comms Manager has spoken to many of you over the past few weeks to ask how we better support you to have active branches. 
  • We have established an events area on the website which will help to promote your branch meetings and other workshops and training events - please tell us about any upcoming events in your area
  • We have started work on a meetings toolkit which will help you hold effective meetings, offering ideas for speakers, campaigns and discussions (more on this next month)
  • We are adding to the support and advice section of the website with ‘How To’s and other elements we hope you will find useful, first Facebook 'How to' is here 
  • We can also help you with meetings logistics, supporting you with venues and bookings etc, just contact us here
  • We know that sub postmasters’ time is precious, and that some of your businesses are in remote locations, so we’d also be happy to talk to you about how you can use free technology to keep up to date with your members and keep in touch in more innovative ways.
But we also need your help. There is no branch network without an active branch secretary. Over the next few months we expect there to be a growth in membership as the free membership offer kicks in. We want these new members to get involved in an active local branch.

We are keen to talk to you again over the next few weeks about your next meeting and what extra support we can offer you. Please email us here to book in a convenient time for a phone call. 

Post office annual statement

Yesterday, the Post Office Ltd. released their Annual Report Statement 2015-2016. We’re pleased to see that POL has started to slowly turn their ship around. They have halved their operating loss before subsidy from £57m to £24m, their commercial turnover is stable and they’re reducing the support they need from Government.

This is obviously positive. However balancing their books has also meant further cuts to rates for sub postmasters. Sub postmasters cannot continue to pay for the financial inefficiency of the Post Office. By reducing rates on key transactions to the point where they become insufficiently viable, POL will struggle to retain existing operators and find it more difficult to attract new operators willing to take on the franchise. This will destroy the network on which the Post Office is built. We are continuing to make this case to POL. 

Travel Money and MoneyGram

All of you will now have received the letters from POL informing you of a reduction in the rates that many of you receive for Travel Money and MoneyGram. We know you’re angry. A few of you will have had conversations with members for whom this change means the difference between their business keeping afloat, or not. Many of you have phoned the NFSP to ask about the action we took to prevent these changes. 

As the letters you received highlighted, the NFSP did not agree to the changes. We in fact, via our Negotiating Committee led by Ian Park, fought tooth and nail to stop these changes. 

But the Post Office are making some brutal changes at the moment to cut costs, from making their own staff redundant and changing their pensions scheme to closing crown branches. Reducing rates for sub postmasters is another cost cutting measure for them.

We are actively fighting against each and every change that negatively hits our members. Sometimes we are able to do this successfully: we have stopped, delayed or mitigated some rates cuts. However sometimes we are not. 

It is likely that we will face further challenges from POL over the next 12 months. We will continually make representations to POL on your behalf, and to be successful we will also look to you more to help us campaign and get support from local media, Government and your customers.

Postmaster financial helpline

The NFSP has teamed up with Franchise Finance to offer our members access to a helpline where they can direct questions or talk about challenges relating to business finance or business planning. 
Phone the helpline on: 01273 452324

Examples of support Franchise Finance can help with:  
  • raising finance for working capital purposes, like expansion or for a new business
  • understanding financial projections
  • business planning: how to go about it, the processes involved or how to arrange to have the plan completed
  • changing banks,
  • preparing to sell your business 
  • independent ‘Business Health Checks’. 
If the issue cannot be dealt with immediately Franchise Finance will provide an answer or source a likely solution by the end of the next working day.

New ACS high street barometer report 

The Association of Convenience Store ‘community barometer’ report that was published this week showed that:
  • having a post office in your local area has a positive impact – higher than any other local service in the survey
  • nearly three quarters of people surveyed said they were satisfied with the level of post office provision in their area
  • Post offices also score highly on the popularity index, with people saying that their area would benefit from a higher number
George was quoted in the ACS press release and a full comment was published on our website here.

August SubPostmaster magazine

The August edition of the Subpostmaster will hit your doormats this week. This month’s edition contains articles on youth engagement, using technology in post office branches, the new ACS report showing post offices have a positive impact on local communities and a lovely tribute to former NFSP General Secretary Alban Morgan.

New Post Office Minister

Following the appointment of the new Prime Minister, Theresa May, the full list of ministerial responsibilities in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has now been confirmed. Margot James MP, Minister for Small Business, Consumers, and Corporate Responsibility, will be the Minister in charge of postal affairs and Royal Mail. In her portfolio she will also have national minimum wage, small business and retail sector. We will aim to meet with Margot as soon as possible to make the case for sub postmasters and highlight some of your concerns about changes to pensions and minimum wage. Greg Clark MP is the Secretary of State for BEIS and Marcus Jones MP, Minister for Local Government, remains responsible for the Department for Communities and Local Government’s work on the high street.

NFSP conference 2017

Conference 2017, which will be held at the St. John’s Hotel, Solihull from 23 April to 26 April 2017, is starting to shape up. We’ve been working hard to make sure that the excellent feedback that we received at the last conference is maintained. This year we will be working on creating a series of workshops and seminars which will be followed by our AGM and the conference proper. We have secured a partnership with the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) and conference will also include a full day at the nearby National Convenience Show. More detailed information will follow nearer the time.

Post offices in the media

George responded to a Guardian story which highlighted the low pay of Hermes couriers.

Member David James Ward was canny in his use of local media - he went on the radio and had this article published, putting himself forward as the alternative to a bank branch, following the stories this week of more bank branch closures.

We heard that road tax revenue has fallen by £93m in the year following the abolition of the paper tax disc in this article, with some calling for the reinstatement of the paper tax disc. The NFSP will be talking to organisations to see if post offices can step in to help. 

From Southern Ireland we learned of the plan to carry out health checks and basic GP and nurses’ surgery work in Post Offices, in this story here. We also saw Rural post offices have been boosted by a Government promise to stop contacting jobseekers to offer payment to their bank accounts, in this story. Could it happen here? We already have PSCO surgeries in a member branch.

Social media news

NFSP twitter engagement continues to rise. Current Top Tweet …
“Well done #OneStop for joining @groundworkuk's #carriers4causes #community scheme, grant
s to £1k for #local projects” linking to this article and proving that community issues are popular.

Our Facebook page is building, albeit a little slower. Our most engaged post last week was this light hearted one about postal workers and the one with the furthest reach was a link to this (no longer) live feed from the Bank of England about business rates.

We had a laugh on Twitter last week with the serious aim of encouraging engagement – here are a couple of Tweets we received with our new hashtag #Fridayfunny:
  • Eccleston Gifts & PO:‏ “when we had to check MOTs, a forgetful customer told me to come and look at his car as 'it would definitely pass'”
  • Bispham Rd PO: “Post office customer comes in with parcel. When asked where address was she replies 'it's inside I thought it had to go there' When the member of staff said it had to be on the outside to allow Royal Mail to see where it's going she became quite shirty.”
Let us know if you've got any stories to share. Joking aside, this is an excellent way to keep abreast of news and current affairs and information sharing so if you’re on Twitter and you haven’t followed NFSP – please do and we’ll follow you back. We do our best to promote members online but if we don’t know you’re there.

Give our Facebook page a “like” too. As soon as it has enough engagement we can start regional groups – like the forum but in regional/branch groupings – there is almost always someone online and many people now have apps on their phone which notify them of relevant social media activity so it’s a great way for instant advice etc.

Upcoming events

  • 18 Aug 2016: Social Media for Beginners - hosted by POL Retail
  • 23 Aug 2016: Branch Meeting Bicester and Oxford, including Alzheimer's Talk
  • 25 Aug 2016: Social Media for Beginners - hosted by POL Retail. 
  • Coming soon: social media workshops in Scotland 
For more details see the events area on the website

New NFSP resources

For more details see the advice and guidance page on the website
Copyright © 2016 National Federation of Sub Postmasters, All rights reserved.

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