Citizens Advice says any Royal Mail changes must deliver for the ‘millions who rely on it’
Late post has very ‘real consequences’ for people, says Citizens Advice, amid plans that Royal Mail could cut-back or slow down letter deliveries to save money.
From missed medical appointments to waiting for vital legal documents - the charity says an absence of post can impact people’s day-to-day lives and scaling back services won’t necessarily ‘make them more reliable’.
Ofcom has put forward proposals to overhaul the postal service because it says the current model is ‘unsustainable’ without major change.
An estimated 12.1 million people were hit by letter delays over Christmas and in the month up to January 5 – according to research by Yonder Data Solutions.
Under proposals unveiled on Wednesday, Royal Mail could be allowed to make just five or three letter deliveries a week – or slow the process down so that it would take three or more days for most letters to arrive – although next-day deliveries would still be available when required.
The changes could save anything between £100 million and £650 million says the regulator.
But in response to the news, charity Citizens Advice says any proposed changes must prioritise customers and not the ‘bottom line’.
The independent organisation, which offers impartial confidential information and advice to people for free, says any overhaul must deliver for the ‘millions that rely on it’.
Morgan Wild, interim director of policy at Citizens Advice, said: “Given Royal Mail has failed to meet its targets for nearly half a decade, it’s clear the current Universal Service Obligation (USO) is falling short of its fundamental purpose: safeguarding consumers. Any changes must prioritise their needs, not Royal Mail’s bottom line.
“We agree that improving reliability is essential. Late post has real consequences - people miss vital medical appointments, legal documents and benefit decisions.
“Cutting services won’t automatically make letter deliveries more reliable, so we must see proposals to tackle the cause of Royal Mail’s persistent failings. Ofcom and the government have to spell out how any revised USO will start to deliver for the millions of us who rely on it.”
With the number of letters being posted having halved since 2011, Ofcom has said it would like to see a ‘national debate’ on the future of the service.
Ofcom’s consultation on the options it has now set out will run until the start of April, with a further update expected in the summer.