Sell off the whole of Post Office, urges IoD

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The Independent Online
THE INSTITUTE of Directors has called for full privatisation of the Post Office, including the network of 20,000 counters throughout the country, writes Mary Fagan.

In one of the most radical responses to the Government's consultation on the future of the Post Office, the institute says that any halfway house to privatisation would raise the spectre of political interference in future.

The Government favours a partial privatisation, selling 51 per cent of Royal Mail and Parcelforce but keeping Post Office Counters in public ownership.

Opponents of privatisation have argued that even this partial sell-off could mean that many sub-post offices will close with heavy job losses.

The institute said that that full privatisation would free the Post Office from public sector investment constraints, produce cost savings and improve industrial relations. It argues that Post Office Counters should be included as 90 per cent of sub-post offices are already in private hands and form part of successful businesses.

It says that the pounds 1 threshold under which the Royal Mail has a monopoly should be reduced to 50p and regularly reviewed and that the universal service obligation restricts the development of competition.

The debate over the future of the Post Office is regarded as increasingly sensitive by ministers. Michael Heseltine, President of the Board of Trade, is thought to be keen to forge ahead with a sale, but it is not yet clear whether legislation will be included in the Queen's Speech in November.