Shake up of the Postal System

Posted on by Dominic Poznanski
Posted in Latest news.

Shake up of the Postal System

As a small business owner, I picked up on the fact that Royal Mail deliveries may be reduced to a few days a week. The article mentioned the Universal Postal Service, something I’d not heard about before, despite being in the letterbox business. So, what is it and what role does it play in the shake-up of the postal system?

What’s the Universal Postal Service?

I’ve learnt that the Universal Postal Service is an obligation on Royal Mail to provide next-day First Class deliveries and up to three-day Second Class deliveries. In addition, letterbox deliveries currently have to be made every day except Sundays and Bank Holidays. For parcel deliveries, the requirement is every weekday.

All sounds good in theory, yet we all know that doesn’t always happen in practice. Does anyone else have days of nothing followed by an influx of mail through the letterbox?

Well, it seems that the model is not achievable. In November, Royal Mail received a £5.6 million fine from Ofcom for failing to reach their targets ‘by a significant and unexplained margin’. Many believe that a viable way to make savings and improve customer service is to cut the number of delivery days.

How Do Fewer Deliveries Help Improve Services?

Your local postie has to cover the same route, passing all residential and commercial properties, whether they have something for the letterbox or not. However, the volume of letters being posted halved from 2012 to 2022. As a result, the same distance is covered for considerably less income.

By reducing delivery, each postie will have more to deliver on the days they walk the route, making it more economical. There are obvious concerns about job cuts and next-day delivery requirements, which are all being reviewed by Ofcom. What is clear is the current Universal Postal Service is not a sustainable model.

What About Parcel Delivery Services?

Whilst letter volumes have decreased, the number of parcels sent has increased by 1 billion over the last 4 years to 3.6 billion items. This means there are plenty of UK parcel couriers vying for business. When it comes to parcel deliveries, Royal Mail has invested in dedicated sorting offices, fleets and employees to compete with other firms. It isn’t known if a shake-up will impact how frequently our packages are delivered, but it seems unlikely.

When Will Our Post Arrive?

In the latest Ofcom Post Monitoring Report, it is acknowledged that 79% of customers agree that there will always be things that need to be sent by post. However, two-thirds of customers have experienced issues with parcel deliveries.

A common complaint is parcels being left in an inappropriate location. That can include on the doorstep, where it is exposed to the elements and opportunist thieves. Equally, being thrown over a gate can result in damage to the enclosed items.

Other issues raised include not being given sufficient time to answer the door or the delivery driver not knocking loudly enough. As a result, people receive the ‘sorry we missed you’ card in place of their delivery and have the inconvenience of collecting or arranging re-delivery. This is frustrating, however, you can understand that posties are on a tight schedule and have minimal time to wait. So, is there a solution?

How to Increase the Chance of Receiving Your Postal Delivery

If you regularly miss the postie because you are out, don’t hear the doorbell or can’t get to the door quickly enough, one option is to install a parcel box. Wall mounted, free standing or through the gate parcel boxes provide a secure, weatherproof hold for your letters and packages.

This solution enables the postie to quickly drop off your delivery and get onto the next. Meanwhile, you can collect from the locked hold in your own time. No rush to reach the door or need to hang around waiting for your parcel.

Parcel boxes offer a practical solution for small businesses too. They help to minimise disruption in the middle of a virtual meeting or when it’s all hands on deck to hit a deadline. It also enables weekend deliveries to be made, even if no one is at the office. That’s because weatherproof and anti-theft features keep your mail safely stored.

For now, we wait to see what solutions Ofcom proposes…



Read more about the proposed shake-up of postal services: