Salmond Welcomes Support for Post Offices – “Important To Help Local Post Offices Strengthen Financially”

>> 15 June 2010

Gordon MSP Alex Salmond has warmly welcomed the news that local Post Offices will soon be able to apply for support from the SNP Scottish Government's new one million pounds Challenge Fund.

The scheme is being launched to help local Post Offices diversify – allowing them to build new business opportunities around Post Offices, which in turn will allow them to better serve their communities and become more financially sustainable as businesses.

Although the Post Office and postal services are reserved to the UK Government under the Scotland Act 1998, the Scottish Government is committed to strengthening the long-term sustainability of the Post Office network in Scotland.

Speaking following the announcement, Mr Salmond said:

"Scotland's Post Offices provide a number of services which many families and local businesses depend on. That’s particularly the case in the North East, where the Post Office is right at the heart of many communities.

"Sadly, the trend in recent years has been for Government to try to remove business from Post Offices, which has in turn put the viability of parts of the network at risk. That’s why it’s so important that we try to reverse the trend, and help local Post Offices strengthen financially by seeking out business opportunities which might help them better meet the needs of the communities they serve.

“We want to see applications from Post Offices, which are focused on diversifying their business. Our priority is to direct funding to help SubPostmasters develop their enterprise, identifying opportunities for new revenue streams such as retailing, selling different goods, or providing a business service not already available in their locality.

“There are a number of Post Offices in the Aberdeenshire area I can think of which might be able to benefit from this funding. I’d encourage local SubPostmasters to consider submitting applications to the Challenge Fund to ensure that they are able to take full advantage.”

Applications for awards ranging from £2,500 to £25,000 will be encouraged over the summer, following a short Scottish Government consultation. The consultation, which sets out proposals about the type of support and outcomes that the new fund could provide, will run until July 9, 2010.

It is anticipated that application forms will be published on July 21, with a deadline for completed applications to be submitted sometime in the autumn.

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