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Hasta La Posta, Baby!

By ATWadmin On December 10th, 2006

When my grandmother had both her knees replaced a a couple of years ago, I offered to collect her pension from the nearest Post Office.  During the eight weeks I did so, I ended up making a two-mile round trip instead of walking a mere 50 yards to the nearest outlet.  Why?  Because my local Post Office closed during that period when the first devastating round of closures began to bite.  Today, my grandmother, though only six months from her 90th birthday, insists on collecting the pension herself.  She has the same problem.  At one time her local PO was a three-minute walk.  Now she has to get the bus each week.  Still, she’s only old; paid her taxes all her life; and worked in the munitions factories during the war.  Why should anyone give a cobbler’s about her when there are so many infinitely more noble causes to support – such as ensuring that asylum seekers have immediate access to everything the moment these freeloaders are granted permission to remain?

My example is just one of, I suspect, many thousands.  How many of the elderly or infirm now suffer because they have difficulty getting to their local PO?  When the next round of swingeing cuts begin, there will be thousands – not only of the elderly, but also people in remote communities – who will have to travel tens of miles just to post a letter or make a bill payment.  Is there something about country dwellers this government detests?  It destroyed much of their livelihoods through its bungling incompetence over foot and mouth;  It has taken away the centuries-old necessity of keeping certain animals in check by hunting; at this moment it is actively seeking the cause mass inconvenience by denuding their areas of essential postal services.

Royal Mail is a government-owned enterprise.  The government has the responsibility to protect the interests of people who rely on what was once the best postal service in the world. 

30 Responses to “Hasta La Posta, Baby!”

  1. Andrew,

    I don’t think the P.O. is in the least bit worried as to whether you, your Granny, or any other person gets their pension. It is THEIR pension that they are worried about!

    Last year there was great hooha about the shortfall in the GPO pension fund. The previous over-unionised management having set up a most generous non-contributory pension scheme, they then failed to make enough money to fund the daily running of the GPO, let alone to fund the pension plan.

    That is what the cuts are all about! an effort to preserve those lucrative pension plans…

    The GPO has long been a ‘community service’, which, while being a non-profit enterprise, was expected to pay for itself, with the government covering the occasional shortfall.

    It was supposed to be a service which due to the coverall nature of the service provided, could best be done by a non-profit government department, rather than by a patchwork of private enterprises.

    Either out of greed or stupidity, the people appointed to run the service, made a complete mess of it, hardly surprising when you consider the bureaucrats involved interpret ‘service’, to mean ‘self-service’, – as in pension plans.

    Too late in catching on that computers may change the entire nature of their monopoly, their only recourse is to shut up shop, which to them, and their Treasury paymasters is a lot easier than making the darned thing work.

    Just what is it about ‘A Community Service’, that bureaucrats don’t understand?

  2. Is it possible to have the penison paid into a bank?

  3. I think that the demise of the Post Office is a social evil.

  4. SMcGIFF,

    Yes it is possible, but a lot of old folk do not have bank accounts – banks are not interested if you are relatively poor,and they charge for low level current, or charge, accounts, – a small but significant sum to a pensioner on sixty pounds a week pension.

    The hassle of bank statements and debit cards are beyond many pensioners. They are just not too familiar with them. Seeing the problems that even young folk have, it is perhaps asking too much of them to expect them to cope with such a ‘modern’ idea.

    The Post Office fulfills more than just the supply of stamps etc, to old folk they are often the sole regular contact for many elderly, and many are the communal meeting point for small communities, which is part of the reason for them being considered a communal service – consistent, and reliable, rather in the way the local constabulary used to be, but is no longer.

  5. Everyone can get access to a bank account by law. It is called a basic bank account and it pays no interest and has no facilities available like over drafts, debit cards etc. The banks do not advertise this service because there is no real money in it for them. Arrange for pension money to be paid into one and the issue of the Post Offices goes away.

  6. SBK,

    "the issue of the Post Offices goes away."

    No it doesn’t, how do you expect pensioners to get to the bank to get their money. You perhaps forget that many banks have also closed, and are pretty thin on the ground in rural, and out-of-town areas.

    The easy access of most PO’s are what makes them so popular with the elderly. Most of the elderly people we are talking about do not have a car, and I doubt that many would be able to walk many miles each week to collect their pension.

    Many pensioners do not have much faith in banks in general, and who can blame them for that, just look at the problems many younger people have with the banks!…

    Why does everything have to be geared for the benefit of the young and most able among us? isn’t our community supposed for all of us, including people well into their eighties?

  7. They are going to do to the Postal services in this country what they did to the Rail network.

  8. Ernest

    I’m sorry but what difference between them going to the bank and going to the post office? Cash machines are pretty much ubiquitous. Non-charging ones should be placed in rural/remote areas I’ll grant that. I’m sick of the continual whining from (or on behalf of) old people because they lack the basic intellectual capacity to use a bank account. Bank accounts can be controlled over the phone. Can’t old people speak? If they have no family members to go to the cash machine/bank shouldn’t social services be able to help? My mum, in her capacity as a home help, has collected pension money etc. for old folks for years. And no she has never taken a penny from the old folks before anyone dares suggest it, neither would the vast majority of any care workers.

    The Post Office and public transport should be seized from private control and renationalised. In my opinion these services should all be "not for profit", unless profit is fully reinvested in the the service in question.

  9. SBK – I know several aged people who do not trust banks and will never put their money in one no matter what. They keep all of their cash with them. I wouldn’t do that, but they have their reasons for not trusting the banks and they are pretty good ones.

    Your mum has the spirit. It’s a community thing and helping the old people, who have seen the best and the worst of what life has to offer, is only what we all ought to do whether we are a social worker or not.

  10. SBK,

    Sorry, but I think you are only seeing this problem from the perspective of a younger person.

    You said earlier that the cheap, basic accountts offer no extras such as debit cards, so your further suggestion of an ‘easy trip’ to the ATM is rather contradictory. Not forgetting, of course just how unsafe the use of standalone ATM’s can be.

    Can you imagine the field day the banks would have when some poor old codger is overdrawn. Your suggestion is akin to deliberately feeding lambs to the wolves!…

    I find your remarks re ‘intellectual capacity’, to be rather patronising and insulting.

    Modern banking, with phone and ATM access, is a relatively modern process, and many of the people we are talking about were retired before there were such things. The ATM was invented in 1967, and didn’t find regular use until the late 1980’s.

    I am sure that many of them have skills which, while now out-of-date, were very mecessary ‘in their day’. Skills and attitudes which you would probably have problems with, were the roles reversed.

    I repeat, society is suposed to be, and to work for all, not just the 18 – 30’s…

  11. p.s. SBK,

    You may well be, "sick of the continual whining from (or on behalf of) old people".

    Ever crossed your mind that we – i.e. the older generation, are ‘sick and tired’, of the continual whining from young people for an ever easier life than they already have…

  12. I’m with you on this one Ernest.

  13. Ernest

    My life is just sooo easy I’ve accrued over 20 grand in debt before I’ve even set foot in a workplace. That is double the amount my parents mortgage was. Getting them degrees ain’t cheap and my income will be minimal without them! I’ll be lucky if I’m on the property ladder within 10 years. Company pension schemes are closing every day. Tell me exactly, at what point I am supposed to realise "that I don’t know I’ve been born" or "I’ve never had it so good"?. I’m 28 and I’ve got more debt than my parents have ever had combined. I’ve been no fool with money either, I’m sadly just typical of a student continually struggling to keep my head above water.

    20 years ago I’d have got a grant to do my degree (chemical engineering, not a wasters degree) and probably to do a masters to. I’m doing an MSc in a chemical engineering subject. Luckily I do get a grant for my MSc or I just couldn’t do it.

    Want to swap lives still? Seeing as how I’ve got it all so easy? My Dad had a mortgage, stable income in a good job (without needing a degree), a marriage (still going strong) and a kid when he was my age. The mortgage was his only debt. All I’ve got is 20 grand black hole and an undergraduate degree which doesn’t mark me out sufficiently enough to get the job I want.

  14. Ernest

    Basic accounts offer cashcard facilities just not debit card. They can be used in branch, on the phone, or at an ATM. Stop making excuses. The "old codger" can’t go overdrawn because the facility doesn’t exist.

    They can keep their cash at home if they want. But they’ll suffer the consequences when some junkie scumbag beats them for it. I’d trust the bank if I were them. I’m sure life is hard for old people. But it really pisses me off when it is claimed that my life is somehow a life of utopian splendour.

  15. Oh dear. You are a whiny one, aren’t you?

  16. SBK,

    Well, well, you really do have tough time, don’t you?

    Ever considered just how lucky you are to have the opportunity? – that you are making the most of that opportunity, is to your credit – your selfish, thoughtless whining isn’t..

    Ever thought that your Father’s debt was not so much, as yours because things were a lot cheaper then, inflation has done some weird things to the ‘year on year’ financial stats.

    I have two degrees, and worked three jobs to see me through them. I also had a wife, a mortgage and three children. I also had the drag of National Service to endure – a bit different from that ‘gap year’, I can asure you.

    Unlike you, we had to wait and save if we wanted anything, you seem to want things NOW! and that is why you find your debt so burdensome.

    Life was different then, but that doesn’t mean it was any easier.

    Life has never been easy, and the good things in life are worth working for, and as for all those ‘old moaners’ you so despise, – guess what – they made it all possible…both the good and the bad! and it won’t make you feel any better if you continue to bitch and moan about it…

  17. Ernest

    I want things now, I can’t wait for them I? Here’s the inside track for you. Either I paid the students fees upfront, hence accruing debt, or I got chucked off my course. Very simple. I needed to pay for rent, bills, food etc. Note we are barred in the terms of our contract with the uni from working more than 12 hours per week at a job. I needed a student loan since some £50 a week bar job wouldn’t even cover rent. More debt accrued. This debt wasn’t used to by TV’s, cars, holidays etc. it was used to keep me alive. Barely. While I studied 40+ hours a week to get my undergraduate degree.

    You should try being in my position. You wouldn’t like it. You don’t understand my position. But the world’s a cynical place. At least that never changes.

  18. SBK,

    Yep! – life is tough. At least you have learnt that much.

    You are not the first, nor will you be the last, to actually have to make an effort to attain your goals, but it will not make it any easier, by looking over your shoulder and bemoaning your lot.

    How many uni students are there? – do they all have it easier than you? – I don’t think so.

    I’m not saying you should grateful, but be glad for the opportunity that you have – at least you aren’t being sent up chimneys!…:-)

    Your quote:- "You should try being in my position. You wouldn’t like it. You don’t understand my position."

    As they say; ‘Been there, seen that, done that’, and yes! I think I understand your position very well…

    Chin up! – and Good luck!

  19. There are problems faced by young people today which are different from those faced by the elderly. We don’t have to have a ‘one size fits all’ solution. The young are familiar with and happy to use Internet banking cash machines , credit card facilities etc. and many of the elderly are comfortable with the traditional services their local post office gave them. As a society we should cater for both . SBK – life won’t be better for you if the elderly have to suffer greater inconvenience. It’s not a case of either you or them I don’t know why you are objecting to their concerns.

  20. no you don’t understand my position Ernest because you weren’t forced to accrue debt to get your uni education. Grants were available in your day were they not? I was forced to accrue debt because my family weren’t wealthty enough to pay the whole shebang for me. Remember in the contract I signed to be at uni I was restricted to a maximum of 12 hours part-time work or I was in breach of contract. Uni’s are businesses after all and would like nothing more than to take your cash while not providing a service. By the by, if you leave or are pushed from a uni course you are still liable for a full years tuition fees. Tuition fees I know you didn’t have to pay.

  21. SBK

    You are quite right. In the main students today have it far tougher than I did when I was there.

    At the same time, I don’t understand your attitude to the concerns of older people. They would appear to find Post Offices more convenient and of benefit to them. As Colm says why would them being put out make your lot easier?

  22. SBK,
    its really tough for students these days, when I was at Uni in the 80’s we got it all for free, and could sign on in the holidays and get housing benefit, so we spent most of our free time getting stoned.

    Debt is a terrible thing to put upon young people.

  23. The Uni only ALLOWS you to work 12 hours a week?!? Why? What on earth for? I’ve never heard of this before; is this a typical scenario? What sort of utter, utter ****wits imposed such a measure on you, and to what purpose?

  24. SBK – Totally get where you are coming from and why you are frustrated. Think the issues are a bit conflated here though re the PO etc and general standards of living (Colm is right issues are different) but as Sir Percy says the whole debt thing is a major chain around your neck coming at a time when debt is being accrued elsewhere, mortgages are ludicrous etc. Its all snowballed and can seem overwhelming. We havent prepared ourselves with how to handle the whole lot. Its not something we are used to either as student debt is a new ‘idea’. I dont see it as a moan or a gripe. Debt on the whole is a serious modern issue.

  25. Tom

    These are the rules (attention isn’t exactly drawn to them) applied if i wish to attend my current uni. I understand my uni isn’t atypical. Also, if I, while under their tuition, develop something that is worthy of a patent they get at least 90% of the proceeds. Like I said uni’s are businesses.

  26. Tom

    I should add. At least a private company would give me a bonus for developing something they can sell, mainly to keep me loyal in the hope I’d develop something else. The uni just laugh all the way to the bank. You can understand that I don’t have any loyalty to my uni beyond that which they can give me. I bet none of you knew that British uni’s will happily eyeball fuck your kids out of anything they develop that they can make money from?

  27. >>I bet none of you knew that British uni’s will happily eyeball fuck your kids out of anything they develop that they can make money from?<<

    I thought that most Uni’s have ownership rights on all discoveries/inventions etc which its students may discover.

    However, if a Uni is smart, it will set up a company and try to keep the relevant people involved thru shares and profit sharing schemes

  28. Kloot

    If their current staff can decode your work and advance it they’ve got no need to add another person to the staff i.e. you!

  29. Balls to that eh SBK. Hardly encourages entrepreneurship that attitude. ( wow a 16 letter word at 11.55 pm )

  30. Good God Almighty. And I thought that the Peter Sellers film "I’m Alright, Jack" was the ultimate parody of socialism. Even that is eclipsed by the utter craziness of what I’m hearing here.
    I would have worked as many hours as I pleased and told the Uni to stick its contract where the sun don’t shine….or more accurately I wouldn’t have let on at all.