People have been left ‘outraged’ after the Post Office has 'halved leavers payment for subpostmasters' affected by the Network Transformation programme.

The Post Office Ltd is facing backlash over its decision to cut long serving Hard to Place subpostmaster’s leavers payment by more than half, for those affected by the end of the Network Transformation programme in March 2025.

This affects subpostmasters from four Lancashire Post Offices including Rising Bridge Post Office in Blackburn Road.

Following the closure of the Network Transformation programme in 2018, the Post Office held a ‘Hard to Place’ register, which covers offices that have not found a replacement subpostmaster.

This is commonly due to location, declining footfall and can also be related to low remuneration etc.

For those subpostmasters who did not want to change their contract to one of the new operating models, provision was made in the form of an 18-month ’leavers payment ‘.

In 2014, this payment was increased to 26 months due to the programme becoming compulsory.

However, each subpostmaster had to decide by December 2015 as to whether they wished to convert to one of the new operating models or exit the network.

Those who did not sign, were asked to sign a conditional resignation form, enabling them to leave the network with their leavers' payment once a new subpostmaster was found.

At the end of the Network Transformation programme, Post Office redeployed or made redundant the Field Change Advisors meaning there was no dedicated team within Post Office looking to find a replacement Postmaster.

However, Post Office Ltd has now allegedly written to the remaining subpostmasters, to inform them that the NT programme will cease in March 2025, and offered them a 12-month payment.

The National Federation of SubPostmasters (NFSP) states that it has tried to highlight the error in Post Office's decision on numerous occasions, but say the company has ‘refused to accept that its offer of 12 months, may leave colleagues with very little remaining after they pay tax, leases or mortgages, staff redundancies, and other associated costs such as clearing the Post Office counter from the premises’.

A Post Office spokesperson said: “Following a programme that first started over a decade ago, there are around 130 Post Offices, out of a network of over 11,500 branches today, that constitute a hard to place branch.

"Under the programme’s arrangements, agreed with the Government of the time, Postmasters who wanted to leave the network were only entitled to an exit payment if and when a replacement branch was found.

“We have provided these Postmasters with three different options to consider and they have six months to tell us how they would like to proceed.

"We have dedicated colleagues able to support and provide advice on their options. We fully recognise that for these Postmasters this is a difficult time, but with limited funds we need to ensure we prioritise maintaining access in the areas our communities and customers need it most.”

The three options are to:

  1. Continue trading on their existing contracts, including retaining substantial fixed remuneration payments which are no longer available to other branches.
  2. Convert to a new style contract, which is based on fully variable remuneration but with an upfront compensation payment worth 12 months’ remuneration and investment to modernise their branch.
  3. Leave the network with an exit payment worth 12 months’ remuneration.

The Post Office said that Postmasters have six months to choose between these options. Any branches where a new replacement operator is secured during this period will still have the opportunity to leave under the previous scheme arrangements, i.e. with 26 months’ worth of remuneration.