The government has just closed its consultation on a mutual model for the Post Office.
There is some confusion in the commentary around this. The argument isn’t about a consumer mutual for the Post Office. Rather, it is whether there should be some representation alongside the small business sub-postmasters and staff.
The issue is in whose interest it is all run. Can a producer co-operative in a market which is non-competitive, so consumers have little or no choice, be 100% aligned with the public interest mission required by statute for the post office network? If you don’t internalise some voice for the consumer interest, even if indirectly representative, then you end up having to do it through external regulation or the courts.
Either route feels to me perhaps like a somewhat unhappy substitute for the current model of direct state ownership – but equally I am open-minded if this is the way, after deliberation, that those involved choose to go.
Our consultation response is here – Co-operatives UK response to POL consultation 2011