The service customers obtain from state-run post offices is often abysmal – a relic of how state services were run in the 1970s. Privatising the state post offices is highly desirable from a taxpayers’ point of view (£103 million subsidy for £61 million trading profit), but politically toxic. This is reflected in the Coalition Agreement: the Royal Mail Group Ltd (which provides universal postal service) will be privatised, but Post Office Ltd (which runs post offices) won’t. However, the political difficulty of privatising the post offices cannot be an excuse for the inept way in which they are run today.
I occasionally have to go to the post office to have packages weighed, etc. For this I’ve used post offices in London (Vauxhall Bridge Road, Charing Cross, and Victoria Street) and Kent (Sittingbourne). Almost every time there is a long queue. I attach a photo of the Vauxhall Bridge post office, taken on Tuesday at 2:55 p.m. A queue of about 25 people stretched out onto the street and persisted unabated throughout the time I was there (about 40 minutes). And no – it wasn’t Christmas.