Royal Mail wants to halve second class letter deliveries to three times a week under massive shake-up

3 April 2024, 11:29

Royal Mail wants to cut the number of second class deliveries in a service shake-up
Royal Mail wants to cut the number of second class deliveries in a service shake-up. Picture: Alamy

By StephenRigley

Royal Mail has unveiled new proposals to deliver second class letters just three times a week as part of a massive savings drive.

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The postal service has outlined plans to deliver second class post on every other weekday as it looks to shore up its finances due to a slump in letter sending.

Bulk business mail would also fall under second class, meaning bank statements, bills and tax returns will arrive within three working days rather than two.

The company said it would continue to deliver first class post six days a week as it acknowledged the importance of next-day and Saturday deliveries for industries such as magazine publishers and greeting card makers.

And it is also in talks with the NHS over ways to ensure greater reliability for time-sensitive medical letters.

Royal Mail says the proposals will save it £300million a year
Royal Mail says the proposals will save it £300million a year. Picture: Alamy

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This could mirror the hybrid system currently used by many GP practices, which issue electronic letters that are then printed and sent by Royal Mail.

Parcel deliveries would be unchanged and still be delivered "up to seven days a week", it said.

The proposals would see customers continue to be given the chance to buy either first or second class stamps.

Royal Mail said the proposals, if given the go-ahead, would save it up to £300 million a year.

It revealed there would be "fewer than 1,000" voluntary redundancies as the plans would mean daily delivery routes cut by between 7,000 to 9,000 within two years.

The group insisted it would not expect to make any compulsory redundancies and hopes the roles can be reduced through natural staff turnover.

It claimed the proposals would not need a change in legislation, given it would still be delivering first-class post six days a week and called for Ofcom to put the changes in place by April next year.

Royal Mail said: "The proposal is designed to create a more financially stable future for the business and its shareholders, protecting tens of thousands of jobs and the best terms and conditions in the industry.

"It closely aligns to changes successfully made in comparable countries - in Europe and around the world - over recent years, with limited changes for customers."

The proposals were put forward in Royal Mail’s submission to regulator Ofcom, which is reviewing the postal service's universal service obligation (USO).

Royal Mail has long campaigned for the USO to be overhauled and also wants its quality of serice targets relaxed.

Currently, Royal Mail is required to deliver 93pc of first class mail on time and 98.5pc for second class post. 

Royal Mail has repeatedly failed to hit these targets in recent years, as it struggled amid a lengthy strike by postal workers.

Last year, Ofcom fined the company a record £5.6million after it failed to deliver more than a quarter of first class post on time.

Ofcom is expected to provide an update on its consultation in the summer, though any changes would ultimately have to be approved by Parliament.

Martin Seidenberg, chief executive of Royal Mail parent company International Distributions Services, said: “If we want to save the universal service, we have to change the universal service. Reform gives us a fighting chance and will help us on the path to sustainability.

“Our proposal is based on listening to thousands of people across the United Kingdom to ensure it meets their needs. We have worked hard to come up with a proposal that is good for our customers, good for our people and would allow Royal Mail to invest in products and services that the UK wants.

“We have serious concerns that the urgency of the situation is not properly recognised by Ofcom. With no need for legislation there is no need to wait.”

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