Post Office may be mutually owned
The next stage in the Government's plans for the Royal Mail have been unveiled with proposals to move the Post Office into mutual ownership.
Sub postmasters, customers and communities could be given a say in how the Post Office arm of the network is run, including the appointment of directors.
Ministers said the Post Office could be on a "clear path" to mutualisation by the end of this parliament as they launched a consultation of their proposals.
The move follows the controversial announcement to privatise the Royal Mail side of the postal business, which the Government argues is necessary to protect its future and ensure growth.
The consultation follows a report earlier this year led by Co-operatives UK which suggested that a mutual body, such as a company or a co-operative, could be set up, with members including staff and customers.
The Government would then transfer ownership of the Post Office to that body, which would have a say in board appointments as well as sharing in profits.
Postal affairs minister Edward Davey said: "The Post Office sits at the heart of our communities and I am determined to make sure that it becomes a successful and profitable business.
"With this in mind we want to explore how those with an interest in the Post Office could be given a real say in how it is run.
"The consultation, Building A Mutual Post Office, sets out the different options for how we might enable sub postmasters, employees, post office customers and local communities, to have a real stake in the future of the Post Office.
"Combined with our major investment programme and Post Office's ambition to become the 'Front Office for Government', a mutualised Post Office could help link a new commercial focus with an even stronger community purpose."