Rishi Sunak 'would not countenance' ending Saturday post as controversial plans to reform Royal Mail emerge

22 January 2024, 12:42 | Updated: 22 January 2024, 13:26

No10 said the government would not countenance axing Saturday post services
No10 said the government would not countenance axing Saturday post services. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Rishi Sunak "would not countenance" ending Saturday post deliveries after a proposal to axe it emerged.

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A spokesperson for No10 said the idea would never be allowed to happen after plans to overhaul the Royal Mail's service emerged.

"The PM's strong view is that Saturday deliveries provide flexibility and convenience," said they said.

"They are important for businesses and particularly publishers. The Prime Minister would not countenance seeing Saturday deliveries scrapped."

Ofcom is set to outline how reforms might be introduced, which could include ending end-of-week deliveries.

Formal proposals are due to be set out later this year, after a consultation.

The potential axing of Saturday post is not the only option for reform - an idea to replicate some European countries like Germany and Italy and delivering every other day could also feature.

Higher stamp prices, a government subsidy and changes to first class and second class delivery targets could follow, industry sources have said.

Read more: 'We all rely on the Royal Mail': Minister acknowledges widespread 'concern' over plans to axe Saturday post

Nick Ferrari wants answers on the threat to Saturday post delivery

Kevin Hollinrake, the business minister who is responsible for post, said in June that there were no plans to change six day deliveries under the "Universal Service Obligation".

But as recently as last week, Martin Seidenberg, the boss of Royal Mail's owner International Distributions Services, warned MPs in a letter: "Delivering the current Universal Service requirements - in a financially sustainable way - is increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to achieve as the mix and number of parcels and letters changes.

"The bar set by the regulations is unrealistic given the market realities."

There are also concerns about the quality of its service, with Ofcom saying late last year that the business - which was privatised in 2013 - was significantly failing to meet targets.

A proposal to axe Royal Mail's Saturday postal deliveries would not be backed by the government
A proposal to axe Royal Mail's Saturday postal deliveries would not be backed by the government. Picture: Alamy

It is expected to deliver 93% of first class post within one working day of it being collected, while 98.5% of second class post is meant to within three working days.

Speaking earlier on LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, culture secretary Lucy Frazer said: "I think many people will have concerns about that but I'm sure Ofcom will be looking at that very carefully.

"We all rely on the Royal Mail and that communication is really important.

"Everyone gets post and that post is incredibly important and everyone is always very concerned when services are taken away.

"I'm sure many people across the country will be having concerns about this."