Royal Mail deliveries could be cut to three times a week to save money: Ofcom

MAIL deliveries could drop to five – or even three – times a week in a bid to save hundreds of millions of pounds.

The proposal is contained in a report by regulator Ofcom as it looks at options to “secure the long-term future” of the Royal Mail.

“The universal postal service risks becoming unsustainable as people send fewer letters and receive more parcels, meaning reform is necessary to secure its long-term future,” a spokesperson said.

“Postal services and postal workers remain essential to those who rely on them.

“Eight in 10 people (79%) say some things will always need to be sent by post. And three quarters of those who use postal services (74%) say they rely on the post for letters.”

The number of letters sent via Royal Mail has plummeted

The number of letters sent via Royal Mail has plummeted

However, while Royal Mail’s obligations have not changed since 2011, letter volumes have halved and parcel deliveries have become increasingly important.

The rising cost of providing the service means it is at risk of becoming “financially and operationally unsustainable”, the report said.

Ofcom is now asking for people to have their say on possible changes to Royal Mail services, including cutting the number of deliveries.

It comes after villagers in Somerset complained of receiving mail sporadically in recent months, which Royal Mail blamed on staff shortages and flooding.

Last year, Ofcom fined Royal Mail £5.6 million for poor performance.

The two primary options the regulator has set out are:

  • Making changes to existing First and Second Class and business products so most letters are delivered through a service taking up to three days or longer, with a next-day service still available for any urgent letters.
  • Reducing the number of letter delivery days in the service from six to five or three.
    This would require Government and Parliament to change primary legislation.
    We estimate that Royal Mail could achieve a net cost saving of £100m-£200m if letter deliveries were reduced to five days; and £400m-£650m if reduced to three days.

Downgrading delivery targets is not an option for reform, the watchdog said, with any changes improving existing levels of reliability.

Meanwhile, the cost of a second-class stamp has also been capped – to rise no more than the rate of inflation.

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Ofcom chief executive, Dame Melanie Dawes, said: “Postal workers are part of the fabric of our society and are critical to communities up and down the country.

“But we’re sending half as many letters as we did in 2011, and receiving many more parcels.

“The universal service hasn’t changed since then, it’s getting out of date and will become unsustainable if we don’t take action.

“So we’ve set out options for reform so there can be a national discussion about the future of universal post.

“In the meantime, we’re making sure prices will remain affordable by capping the price of Second Class stamps.”

People can comment on the analysis before April 3, with an update due in the summer.

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