25/03/2004

Rural Post Offices get funding boost

Some of Northern Ireland's most deprived rural areas received a boost today on the launch of a £750,000 fund to support Post Office branches.

The Government said it hoped the Fund would help sub postmasters to develop and improve services for their local communities.

A spokesperson for the Department for Social Development said: "We recognise that a small Sub Post Office can play a pivotal role in providing socially important services in a disadvantaged neighbourhoods. The fund is one element of the Department’s new Neighbourhood Renewal Strategy and we are working closely with Post Office Ltd to identify areas that could benefit from some extra support.

Sir John Semple, Director of Northern Ireland Affairs at the Royal Mail Group, added: “This funding will be of tremendous benefit in helping to sustain and improve Post Office branches in some of the most deprived urban communities across Northern Ireland.

“It is certainly a most welcome initiative and complements the work already being carried out by Post Office Ltd aimed at transforming the branch network through a carefully managed urban closure and investment programme and the introduction of new products and services designed to attract customers and generate a decent income for sub postmasters.”

The scheme, which will be open for applications from the beginning of April and will be managed by the Department’s Neighbourhood Renewal Unit, has the potential to rollout over the next three years.

(MB)

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