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Changes to Royal Mail delivery rules risk ‘rewarding failure’

That according to Citizens Advice

Watering down Royal Mail’s delivery rules risks “rewarding failure” as millions of households suffer post-postal delays, Citizens Advice has warned.

After concerns about postal voting ahead of the election, the charity said postal delays affected almost one in six people – or 7.2 million – last spring.

Research by the Advisory Service, which is the statutory watchdog for postal consumers, suggests that delays earlier this year saw 1.4 million people suffer serious consequences as a result, including missed health appointments, legal documents, fines and benefit decisions.

People with disabilities were almost three times more likely to be affected, while in some cases people missed important deadlines for applying for disability benefits, and the delay put them in the red.

The charity’s study also suggests that many people pay for first-class stamps because they are worried that the cheaper option will not arrive in time.

One in four people do not trust second-class letters to reach their destination when they should.

Citizens Advice warned that if Royal Mail continued to raise prices at the current rate, first class stamps would be almost 200% more expensive in five years.

This is the fourth year in a row that Citizens Advice has raised concerns that standards are deteriorating at Royal Mail, despite routine Ofcom investigations and fines.

While agreeing to the need to future-proof the Universal Service Obligation (USO), it said any options put forward by Ofcom would “water down how Royal Mail delivers the country’s postal services and reward years of failure, with nothing offered to consumers in return “.

It also warned that Ofcom could allow letters to be slowed while paving the way for Royal Mail to charge much more.

The charity said it was vital that Ofcom and the new government ensured that any revised USO guaranteed a service that was universal, reliable and affordable for all.

Citizens Advice chief executive Dame Clare Moriarty said: “Ofcom has sat on the sidelines for far too long, allowing letter delays and poor service to become business as usual at Royal Mail. The company has now missed its annual targets for almost half a decade.

“Reforms cannot simply be a disguise for cuts – the only options put forward will water down the way Royal Mail delivers our post, saving the company millions but doing nothing for consumers.

“Post remains a vital part of the UK’s infrastructure. Ofcom and the new government must outline how the revised USO will deliver for the millions who rely on it, not just for Royal Mail’s potential new owners and bottom line.”

An Ofcom spokesman said: “As well as investigating and fining Royal Mail for its recent poor performance, we have pressed the company on what it is doing to turn things around.

“Last week Royal Mail published an update on its improvement plans, and while we have seen some green progress recently, there is more for the company to do.

“We will continue to hold Royal Mail to account and take action on behalf of its customers.”

A Royal Mail spokeswoman said: “We do not recognize the conclusions Citizens Advice has drawn from a small survey sample of 2,000 people who were asked to recall experiences of letter delays and do not reflect recent improvements in the quality of services.

“Each month so far this year we have seen improvements, and year-on-year our First Class service has increased by over 6%, while delivery errors have decreased by 45%. Currently, 95% of First Class mail arrives within two days , up from 91% at full year.

“Delivering a consistent, reliable service is our priority and we will continue to deliver on our action plan to further improve our service to customers.”

Published: by Radio NewsHub

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