Rural post offices could be forced to close if the government fails to renew its £50m annual subsidy, according to the NFSP. The funds are used to pay additional commissions to rural sites.

With just six months to the end of the current agreement, NFSP chief executive Calum Greenhow said: “It is not scaremongering to state that there would be many closures if this were removed.”

The NFSP said while the government had committed to continued support for the Post Office (PO) network in 2019, the pandemic meant “the landscape has changed dramatically”.

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In June, PO chief executive Nick Read said the PO “will have to cut its cloth accordingly”.

Responding to staff last week, Read failed to deny redundancies to rural post offices were coming. “I’m going to be absolutely honest and say there is work underway to ensure that we as an organisation are set up for success,” he said.

The Covid-19 pandemic is said to be behind uncertainty elsewhere regarding the PO. A new five-year mail framework agreement with Royal Mail is behind schedule and the government admitted last week that it is still struggling to find a chair for its review of the PO Horizon scandal.

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