Public Sector – Post office flop costs £180m

year for a £180m loss as a result of its problem-ridden Pathway project to computerise Britain’s network of sub-Post Offices.

Managing director of the scheme John Bennett said the provision covered the cost of developing a magnetic swipe card, now dropped from the technology.

But he said that the benefits of the scaled-down system, renamed Horizon, were so great that writing off the loss was worthwhile. The project would provide an automated platform to deliver a range of electronic banking and government services, Bennett told the Commons trade and industry committee last week.

Bennett denied claims by MPs that the removal of the magnetic strip swipe card from the system had left it ‘holed below the waterline’. He said the scheme had originally been designed to accommodate smart cards and predicted it could provide the platform not just for the payment of benefits but to provide universal banking services through sub-Post Offices and to provide electronic government services.

Bennett assured the committee: ‘There is no question of compensation payments. No question of litigation.’

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