Future of Royal Mail universal service obligation under consideration

Category: Operations
Future of Royal Mail universal service obligation under consideration

Ofcom is laying the groundwork for providing advice on how Royal Mail’s universal service obligation might need to evolve to better reflect the changing needs of postal users.

The universal service obligation has been unchanged since the implementation of the current framework under the Postal Services Act 2011. However, consumer demand for postal services has changed substantially, and continues to do so.

Currently, the universal service obligation requires Royal Mail to deliver letters six days a week (Monday to Saturday) and parcels five days a week (Monday to Friday) to every address in the UK, at affordable prices that are uniform throughout the UK. These minimum requirements are set out in legislation, and any changes to them can only be made by the UK Government and Parliament.

The UK is not alone in seeing user demands change, with an increasing reliance on parcels and a decline in letter volumes. Many countries around the world are reviewing how their universal postal service should adapt in line with consumers’ needs, environmental concerns and the need to ensure that everyone is able to participate fully in society, while others have already scaled back the scope of their universal service.

So, Ofcom is gathering evidence on how the universal service might need to evolve to more closely meet consumer needs.

Ofcom will set out this evidence in detail later this year – explaining how demand is changing, the challenges and costs of delivering the universal service, potential options for change in the future and how these might be managed to ensure smooth transition to any future arrangements. They will encourage input from interested parties after the publication.

It would ultimately be for the UK Government and Parliament to determine whether any changes are needed to the minimum requirements of the universal service obligation.

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