What Time's The Last Post?

Posted on Apr 04, 2024. by NTI

Small businesses and workers have raised concerns about “drastic” plans by Royal Mail to reduce the frequency of second-class postal deliveries, claiming that the plans could have an effect on the economy.

The plans involve Royal Mail proposing to cut second-class deliveries to every other weekday in order to tackle its heavy losses. First-class mail would continue at six days per week. Royal Mail also plan to reduce the delivery speed for bulk business mail to three days rather than two. They have, however, dropped a proposal to scrap daily deliveries altogether.

Royal Mail is legally required to deliver letters to all addresses in the UK six days per week, as part of its universal service obligation. It claims that this requirement has become “unsustainable” given a dramatic drop in the volume of letters being sent.

Tina McKenzie, policy chairwoman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “Taking the axe to daily deliveries for second-class would be a drastic cut which would hit the many small businesses which rely on it, and will in all probability leave some with no choice but to fork out for first-class.” McKenzie said that slower bulk business mail, such as bills and statements were a “difficult but sensible way to make savings without causing an enormous amount of disruption”.

One in four small companies rely on the postal service, reportedly, and that scaling it back could damage the economy. Ofcom has launched a consultation after Royal Mail put forward options for changes to the universal service obligation.

The Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) said that the changes being proposed would create a “short-term financial gain for Royal Mail” that must be matched with improvements in quality of service and genuine reform.

It is claimed the proposed changes would save Royal Mail up to £300m per year but could result in almost 1,000 voluntary redundancies.

The Greetings Card Association (yes, that’s a thing, apparently) said price increases and “service reductions will accelerate a decline in the British postal service, leading to increasingly frequent requests for bailouts”.

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