Confidence in Post Office plummets after outrage over Horizon scandal, poll finds

The Post Office has fallen from its position as Britain's sixth most trusted financial, banking and insurance brand to 135th in the space of just 12 months amid public outcry over the Horizon IT scandal, a new survey suggests. .

The company now risks losing a third of its “core” older customer base, according to the study, with the number of people over 50 considering using Correos services falling from 60 to 40 percent in less than of one year.

Trust in the Post Office as a whole fell to 69 percent in April, down from 83 percent a year earlier, according to a Savanta survey seen exclusively by The independent.

The ongoing survey interviews over a million consumers each year and covers over 2,500 UK brands.

“The Post Office has always been one of the most trusted brands in Britain, but this shows how affected the brand has been by the Horizon IT scandal that burst into the public consciousness,” spokesman John Laughton said.

“Our findings suggest that their biggest challenge is their core of people over 50 years old. “However, the legacy of the Post Office brand gives them the opportunity to rebuild, if they can reassure those core audiences and show a willingness to improve, but there is a lot of reputation work to be done.”

Pollsters said they would monitor the company's trust ratings closely in the coming weeks, and former Post Office chief Paula Vennells will testify at the ongoing investigation into the Horizon IT scandal next week.

More than 700 subpostmasters were unfairly prosecuted by the Post Office and handed down criminal convictions between 1999 and 2015 as a result of Fujitsu's faulty Horizon system, which made money appear to be missing from its branches.

The Post Office scandal saw hundreds of people unfairly prosecuted as a result of the faulty Horizon computer system. (Pennsylvania)

Hundreds of subpostmasters are still waiting for full compensation, despite the government announcing that those whose convictions have been overturned are entitled to payments of £600,000. More than 250 people are believed to have died while waiting for compensation.

Public outrage over the scandal reached new levels in January with the broadcast of the ITV programme. Mr Bates v the Post Officewhich dramatized the years-long struggle waged by subpostmasters, led by activist and former subpostmaster Alan Bates, in their quest for justice.

Savanta's research suggests that trust in the Post Office declined most severely in January, with its rating falling by 10 percentage points in the space of a month.

The following month, the Cabinet Office said Ms Vennells had been stripped of her CBE, which she was awarded in December 2018, for “bringing the honors system into disrepute”, weeks after she stated her intention to return the honor.

The Horizon inquiry heard on Friday that Ms Vennells had located 50 additional documents, which she will hand over to the inquiry before giving evidence next week.

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