Social benefits will continue to be paid in cash
The Department of Social Protection has renewed its contract with An Post to allow people to continue collecting their benefits in cash.
Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar formally signed the contract with David McRedmond, CEO of An Post, in the GPO yesterday to allow post offices across the country to provide pensions, child benefit and social welfare payments, cash in hand.
Last year's contract amounted to €52m for more than 35 million payments, with the value of the 2017 contract expected to match that.
The signing of the contract came after it was revealed that half of Irish post offices are not commercially viable, particularly those in rural areas, according to a report.
The unpublished Kerr report, seen by the Irish Independent, states that An Post management feels it only needs 600 post offices to deliver its contract with the Department of Social Protection. This is out of a total of 1,130 in the network.
"It wouldn't be realistic to say that no post office will ever close again," Mr Varadkar said. "I think one of the things that can help them become more viable is having them co-located with newsagents and shops.
"If we're creative about solutions like these we can save the vast majority of post offices into the future."