Post offices need a business rates discount to survive, says a struggling postmaster from Inverurie.
Rory Will, who runs the sole surviving post office in Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, says branches are forced to pay “insanely archaic” business rates.
He earns just 1p from each stamp sale with the national Post Office business and half a penny from every pensions account withdrawal – which he said makes up a large percentage of his customers.
He is calling for Aberdeenshire Council to offer a rates relief package for businesses offering a vital public service.
His says that his own post office is subsidised by his business, Will’s Coffee House and Gift Barn, and he is unable to take on more staff to meet demand.
Mr Will is warning that post offices across the region could be left without a post office unless “big changes” are made.
He says business rates that high street branches face, combined with the traditional business model they follow, means post offices are struggling to survive.
Inverurie is one of Aberdeenshire’s fastest-growing towns, but the post office on Burghmuir Drive closed this year, leaving just Mr Will’s, on West High Street.
“I’ve paid more in business rates than I’ve ever paid myself, it’s an insanely archaic tax,” he said.
“Why are post offices, who are offering this vital service to the public, not getting some sort of support package?
“I stop scams on a weekly basis and spend a great deal of time assisting disabled or elderly individuals who need help.
“The other week I had a blind person come in, and spent 40 minutes helping them with their passport.
“But I’m not unique, I’m not some sort of superhero in Inverurie, postmasters everywhere are doing this extra work for vulnerable people.”
He added: “Our post office is not likely to be sustainable unless there are some big changes.”
The Scottish Government sets business rates, but councils can offer help with payment plans to ensure firms do not go into arrears.
A Post Office spokeswoman last night said a review was under way to protect branches at the “heart of communities”.