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Post Office Operational Improvement Plan

Press release   •   Aug 13, 2020 18:32 BST

  • More than 1,300 applications to Historical Shortfall Scheme
  • Additional scheme to be launched for postmasters following review of processes
  • New Director appointed to implement measures resulting from Group Litigation

The Post Office announced today that the Historical Shortfall Scheme for current and former postmasters who believe they experienced shortfalls related to previous versions of the computer system Horizon, has received more than 1,300 applications. The scheme, which opened on 1 May, closes to applications at midnight BST tomorrow, Friday 14 August 2020 but potential applicants are reminded that if they feel they have special circumstances which have delayed application beyond the closing date they should get in touch with the scheme at as soon as possible.

The Historical Shortfall Scheme followed the agreed settlement last year of group litigation between Post Office and 555 mainly former postmasters and is part of a major programme addressing past issues and fundamentally reforming the Post Office for the future.

As part of the operational improvement plan and to address issues which arose from group litigation concluded last year the Post Office has:

Established the Historical Shortfall Scheme for former and current postmasters who were not part of the litigation settlement but believe they may have been affected by shortfalls in their branch accounts caused by previous versions of the Post Office’s Horizon computer system.

  • Undertaken a programme of improvements to overhaul culture, practices and procedures throughout every part of the Post Office to forge an open and transparent relationship with our postmasters. Improvements have been made in support provided for postmasters, from initial recruitment and training, through to daily transaction accounting, with nearly 100 area managers providing personalised, individual support and dedicated teams to investigate for postmasters if they have concerns.
  • Set out for every postmaster the detailed responsibilities and commitments which support them to build thriving businesses, serving the UK’s communities.
  • Increased postmaster remuneration by £20 million a year on top of the £17 million increases secured for banking services through our new framework with the High Street banks.
  • Continued making strenuous efforts regarding former postmasters with historical convictions that may be affected, fully co-operating with applications to the Criminal Cases Review Commission and establishing a review of historical convictions to identify and disclose material in accordance with Post Office’s duties as former prosecutor.

Following a close examination of other branch processes unrelated to the technical performance of Horizon, a further specific measure is being introduced to address an historical weakness in its stock processes for stamps. Whilst this process has been corrected, this additional review found that Post Office’s stamp stock procedures had the potential to produce cash surpluses or shortfalls for postmasters in certain circumstances and, in some cases involving a shortfall, that there may not have been an equivalent loss to Post Office.

In these circumstances, it is right that steps are taken to provide a redress mechanism for postmasters who believe they may have been disadvantaged by this weakness in the old stock control process. To this end, a new scheme, modelled on the Historical Shortfall Scheme, is being finalised and full details will be communicated to current and former postmasters in the near future. It will, of course, also be open to those who have already applied to the Historical Shortfall Scheme, or who plan to do so.

New director

A new Post Office Director, Declan Salter has been appointed to implement the claims schemes and a programme of operational measures that help deliver the reset of Post Office’s relationship with postmasters. He will report to Post Office Chairman Tim Parker and CEO Nick Read.

Nick Read said: “We are making sure the mistakes of the past are fairly addressed for the people affected and can never happen again. We have made good progress with significant improvements for our postmasters.

“Declan’s appointment will ensure we maintain momentum as we balance the importance of dealing with the past with our responsibilities to the many thousands of postmasters who are currently providing vital services for our customers across the UK every day.”

Declan Salter said: “I am pleased with the opportunity to lead the implementation of important measures to address past events in a fair, transparent way and reform the future with postmasters and customers at the heart of the transformation.” 

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