Post office in Ashington may reduce opening hours due to government plans to remove DVLA services
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Nichola Boyle, who runs the post office on Station Road, is backing a national campaign by the National Federation of SubPostmasters to get the decision reversed.
The organisation says removing the services, such as paying road tax or renewing a driving licence, will negatively impact people without digital access and risks the livelihoods of Post Office employees.
Nichola said: “The post office has been the cornerstone of every community in the UK for over one hundred years.
“I understand as time passes progress must too, and online services have benefited many in society, particularly the younger generations.
“However, there remains a large percentage that do not have access to online services or computers and would therefore be excluded from taxing their car. Why would this be allowed?”
Currently six million people in the UK access DVLA services across post office counters, half of whom pay in cash.
As things currently stand, the government will remove DVLA services on March 31, 2024 and require these services to be accessed online.
Nichola added: “Many customers still like to pay cash and often save coins during the year to allow them to afford this service.
“The post office services the majority of the vulnerable in society and by taking this away the government is effectively excluding these customers, which will cause worry, stress, and possible fines for non-taxation.
“If this goes ahead many branches, including myself, will have to reduce our trading hours quite significantly, with the possibility of closure if this valuable service income is stopped.”
The post office network, which is run by self-employed postmasters, earned £3m from providing these services last year.
The petition opposing the changes can be signed online or in person at Station Road Post Office.
Chair of the House of Commons all-party parliamentary group on post offices, Marion Fellows MP, said: "My clear message to the UK government is that the decision to withdraw DVLA services from sub post offices is unacceptable.”
A DVLA spokesperson said: “The Post Office currently provide a limited range of DVLA’s services and an extension to the current contract has been agreed until 31 March 2024.
“We want our customers to be able to access our services as quickly and as easily as possible, and the role of front office counter services will form part of the considerations of any future service offerings.”
People unable to sign the petition in person can do so at you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/prevent-government-removing-dvla-services-from-the-post-office-from-april-2024