FAQs

Community Branch Fund Frequently Asked Questions

How much funding is available to me/what is the maximum?

There is no fixed amount available per branch or cap on the amount that you can apply for.  However, as the Community Branch Fund is limited to £20 million and we want as many subpostmasters as possible to benefit from it, it will be unusual for a total sum of £10,000 or more for Community Braches and £2,000 for Outreach or Satellite Branches, to be awarded to any one branch.  The money released through the fund to a particular branch will need to be proportionate to the level of benefits the proposed improvements are likely to bring.

Any application for under £3,000 will be considered by the Community Branch Fund Team. Applicants will need to show that their proposed project meets one of the objectives of the Community Branch Fund which are to:

  • Support the growth of the Post Office business in the community by investing in branch specific improvements;
  • Bring benefits to Post Office customers;
  • Bring benefits to the subpostmasters overall business to support the Post Office.

Applications for over £3,000 will be considered by a working group (including a representative of the NFSP) and will need to meet one of the objectives of the Community Branch Fund (as above).

Projects of £10,000 or over (or any application that takes the total amount awarded to one branch over £10,000) will be unusual and will be considered by an Exceptions Review Panel.

The money released through the fund to a particular branch will need to be proportionate to the level of benefits the proposed improvements are likely to bring.

How do I apply?

The application form is available to download from {Community Branch Fund Application Form}

In the application form you should outline your project in as much detail as possible, including a breakdown of all the costs involved and an explanation of how it will meet at least one of the objectives of the Community Branch Fund (as above).

If the application is for £3,000 or over then you will need to provide at least two quotes for each element of the project.  If the application is for £10,000 or over then you will need to provide details of the property interest you hold in the Branch Premises. More details can be found on the application form and in the Terms and Conditions on this site.

Terms and Conditions apply –  please ensure that you have read and understood these prior to submitting your application.

What can I use the Community Branch Fund for?

The funds are to be used to support projects that meet one of the objectives of the Community Branch Fund which are to:

  • Support the growth of the Post Office business in the community by investing in branch specific improvements;
  • Bring benefits to Post Office customers;
  • Bring benefits to the subpostmasters overall business to support the Post Office.

Will I be taxed on the grant?

A summary of the general tax position is set out below. However, the tax treatment of grant payments will vary from case to case, and you are strongly advised to seek your own tax advice.

If the payments that you currently receive from Post Office are paid to you after deduction of PAYE and employee’s national insurance contributions, then the same treatment will generally apply to the grant payments. This means that Post Office will deduct tax and any employee’s national insurance contributions from the grant payment through PAYE, and you will receive the net amount.

However, depending on how you use the grant payment, it may be the case that the payment will not be subject to tax even if the payments that you usually receive from Post Office are made net of tax. This will be the case if you use the grant to improve or adapt the part of your business used exclusively for postal services. Examples would include replacing Post Office signage or scales, or improving the appearance of the Post Office counters. This expenditure would be incurred by you wholly, exclusively and necessarily in your function as a subpostmaster and, as such, it would not be subject to tax.

Similarly, if you use the grant for other parts of your business, this will not be for the purposes of providing subpostmaster services, and the payment will be subject to tax. Examples include installing an ice cream cabinet or a greetings card display. It may the case that you use the grant for the benefit of both parts of your business, for example if you renovate the interior by repainting, or you install new lighting or flooring. In that case, you will need to make a reasonable apportionment of the amount that can be attributed to the postal business and the amount attributable to the non-postal business and pay tax accordingly.

If the payments that you currently receive from Post Office are paid to you gross (i.e. no tax is deducted from the payments), then you may still be liable to pay income tax on the grant payment on the basis referred to above. Again, the tax position will depend on your individual circumstances and how the grant payment is used by you. If the grant is used for expenditure which can be considered as wholly and exclusively incurred for the purposes of your postal services business, then this expenditure will be deductible against your taxable income for the period in which it is spent. If, however, the grant is used for ongoing or day to day expenditure relating to the non-postal parts of your business, then it will be taxed as a trading receipt. Any part of the grant used for capital expenditure will not be treated as a trading receipt, but capital allowances will not be available in respect of that expenditure.

If your application is for conversion to the open plan format Post Office will pay for some of the works directly (Post Office will tell you which ones these would be) instead of providing a grant directly to you.  In this situation, if you are treated as an officeholder this would still be treated as a benefit even though no cash has passed to you.  The value of that benefit would be subject to income tax under self-assessment to the extent that the expenditure is not used in a way which is wholly, exclusively and necessarily for the purpose of the office you hold (as above).

It is your responsibility to pay any tax and any employee’s national insurance contributions due in respect of the grant and, if you are in any doubt as to the tax treatment of the grant, you are strongly advised to seek independent advice.

Will VAT be payable on the grant?

If the payments that you currently receive from Post Office are paid to you after deduction of income tax through PAYE, then no VAT will be chargeable on the grant payment.

If the payments that you currently receive from Post Office are paid to you gross (i.e. no tax is deducted from the payments), then VAT will be chargeable by you on the grant payment and you will be obliged to issue Post Office with a valid VAT invoice. All grant payments will be made by Post Office on a VAT-inclusive basis; therefore no additional amount will be paid by Post Office in respect of VAT. It is your obligation to account to HM Revenue and Customs for the amount of VAT due.

Can I make multiple applications at different intervals?

Yes. However you should be aware that if you make two separate applications at the same time or very close together then Post Office Limited will consider them together.

You should also be aware that it will be unusual for funding of more than £10,000 (or £2,000 for subpostmasters operating outreach or satellite services) to be awarded to any one branch.

The money released through the fund to a particular branch will need to be proportionate to the level of benefits the proposed improvements are likely to bring.

Can I use my own money to help fund the project?

Yes.

I don’t know what to apply for – can you help me?

You can find examples of what you can use the fund for by visiting the following page {What can I apply for}. You may also find useful ideas and suggestions by visiting the Retail Awareness pages {Retail Awareness site}. On top of this resource the following is also good practice to identify improvement opportunities.

  • Speak with your customers and ask them what improvements they would like to see.
  • Look at your branch from a customer perspective;
    • How is your signage, does it need updating? The following link will show you the latest signage brochure {Signage Catalogue}.
    • What’s the access to your branch like? (doors, level access)
    • How does the branch look internally? (flooring, ceiling, lighting, directional signage)
    • Does it need a general refurbishment inside and out?
    • We are also looking for branches to think innovatively and we are open to your ideas and suggestions, such as establishing an internet café or community hub.

Give your application serious consideration and, when submitting, provide a detailed breakdown of the costs of the project. If the total costs are over £3000, you’ll need to include at least two quotes for each element of the project.

Will I have to pay for the project works?

Unless your application is for conversion to the open plan format, in which case Post Office will, if your application is successful, pay for some of the works directly (Post Office will tell you which ones these would be) then you will need to enter into contracts with contractors and suppliers for the works and pay them directly. Provided you have complied with the Terms and Conditions, Post Office Ltd  will reimburse you upon receipt of invoices up to the amount approved by Post Office Limited and payment will be made to you within 10 working days (where practicable) and within 21 working days at the latest.

You shouldn’t spend any money or enter into any commitments with contractors or start works until you have received written confirmation from Post Office Limited that your proposed project has been approved and of the maximum amount that Post Office Limited is willing to contribute.

I am thinking of getting new signage, where do I get it from?

You can view the latest signage catalogue by clicking the following link {Signage Catalogue}.

You shouldn’t spend any money or enter into any commitments with contractors or start works until you have received written confirmation from Post Office Limited that your proposed project has been approved and of the maximum amount that Post Office Limited is willing to contribute.

Where can I get information about scales?

Information on scales can be gained by contacting Avery Post Office Sales line: 01215681915

I want to change / update / move my counters

If you wish to use the Community Branch Fund to change your counters then please contact the Network Transformation Helpline on 0845 266 8790. They will take your details and someone will be in touch within 2 weeks.

I want to go Open Plan

If you wish to use the Community Branch Fund to go Open Plan then please contact the Network Transformation Helpline on 0845 266 8790. They will take your details and someone will be in touch within 2 weeks.

Can my FCA help me to complete the Community Branch Fund application?

The application form has been designed to make it easy for you to complete.  In addition information and guidance can be found on this site.

Please complete the application form as best you can with as much information as possible, including a breakdown of costs (and at least two quotes for each element of the Project if the total costs of the project are over £3000) and send it in.

Where should I post my completed Community Branch Fund application form?

Forms should be sent to NT Community Branch Fund, Post Office Limited, 1st Floor, 112-114 Camden High Street, Camden, London, NW1 0RR. You can also submit an application online by emailing the completed form to nt.communityfund@postoffice.co.uk

When will I receive feedback from the Community Branch Fund Team after submitting my application form? 

We aim to provide you with a response within 28 days from the date of receiving your application form and the information we require in support of your application.

You shouldn’t spend any money or enter into any commitments with contractors or start works until you have received written confirmation from Post Office Limited that your proposed project has been approved and of the maximum amount that Post Office Limited is willing to contribute.

How will I be notified of the outcome of the Community Branch Fund application?

You will receive a phone call and a letter confirming your outcome.

You shouldn’t spend any money or enter into any commitments with contractors or start works until you have received written confirmation from Post Office Limited that your proposed project has been approved and of the maximum amount that Post Office Limited is willing to contribute.

How will I be reimbursed for carrying out the agreed works in my branch?

Once the works are completed you will need to notify the Community Branch Fund Team immediately. You will then be asked to submit original receipted invoices for the works to NT Suppliers Team, 148 Old Street, LONDON, EC1V 9HQ, marked for the attention of Community Branch Fund.

If Post Office Limited is happy with the works and the invoices and you have complied with the Terms and Conditions then you will be reimbursed (up to the maximum amount specified in the Offer Letter) within 10 working days (where reasonably practicable), and within 21 days at the latest, of the date Post Office Limited receives the invoices.

If there are any problems with the invoices, the invoice team will be in touch.

Will I be visited by an FCA?

No but a visit may be made by the NT Quality Assurance Team after the works have been completed.  You will be contacted separately after we receive your application form if the nature of the project you want to carry out means that we will need to visit your branch.

I want to leave; can I still apply for the Community Branch Fund?

If you have expressed an interest in leaving the network under Network Transformation, or intend to do so, then you will not be eligible for the Community Branch Fund and should not apply at this stage. If you change your mind about leaving the network then we would encourage you to consider applying to the Community Branch Fund.

If I sell my business can the new operator access the Community Branch Fund?

If the new operator is appointed by Post Office Limited to operate the branch on the existing model contract then the new operator can apply for the Community Branch Fund, as long as the branch hasn’t already received funding under the scheme. If the new operator is appointed on a Local or Main Post Office Agreement then they will not be eligible for the Community Branch Fund.

Can I still convert after receiving the Community Branch Fund?

If you have expressed an interest in converting to one of the new operating models or intend to do so then you would not be eligible for the Community Branch Fund and should not apply at this stage.

If you change your mind about converting your branch, or are unable to convert your branch then we would encourage you to consider applying to the Community Branch Fund.

Can I use the Community Branch Fund to make improvements to my retail business as well as the Post Office?

Yes, providing that you can show in your application how your project will meet one of the objectives of the Community Branch Fund which are to:

  • Support the growth of the Post Office business in the community by investing in branch specific improvements;
  • Bring benefits to Post Office customers;
  • Bring benefits to the subpostmasters overall business to support the Post Office.

How do I get an Exchange Rate Board for my office?

This is through First Rate, but Boards are only available to those branches trading in excess of £500,000 of bureau per annum.