The Post Office Network Change Programme has largely met its targets and complied with the undertakings given by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (the Department). By March 2009, 2,383 post offices had been closed: 98 per cent of the final total of 2,435 now planned. The Programme has overseen a planned reduction in the total number of post office outlets to fewer than 12,000. At the same time, the Programme has put in place protections for consumers, which set out maximum distances that people should have to travel to their nearest Post Office. Conclusions and recommendations of the National Audit Office include: the programme is forecast to be under-budget. At March 2009, the projected final costs for the programme were GBP 161 million - down from the original estimate of GBP 176 million. After completion of the programme, Post Office Ltd plans to deliver savings of GBP 45 million a year. The ongoing benefits of the programme will exceed the one-off costs of the programme, notably the cost of compensating sub postmasters, from 2011-12 onwards. The programme of putting new Outreach services, such as mobile post offices, missed the target date for completion of late 2008, with 433 of the 500 planned services open by March 2009. Planned refurbishments to nearly 700 existing post offices have been completed in only 447. The post office network is being supported by a subsidy from the taxpayer of GBP 150 million a year, reflecting the role Post Offices play in the local community. The Department evaluated the social and economic value of supporting the reduced network, but does not plan continued monitoring of the social or economic benefits.
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