Rural services are the glue that holds communities together. Lack of access to those services, whether it is due to limited public transport or lack of broadband, can lead to increasing rural isolation. Against this background the future of the Universal Service Obligation (USO) is of great concern to those living in rural communities.
The six day, one-price-goes-anywhere service that Royal Mail provides through the USO is essential to those living and working in rural areas.
For many parts of the country, and particularly in rural areas, the costs of delivering mail can only be met through using revenues generated from urban and suburban services. However, the current regulatory environment is allowing competitors to ‘cherry-pick’ the easier to deliver to areas, leaving the more geographically challenging areas to Royal Mail.
The Countryside Alliance believes that if this cherry-picking continues at its current pace it could threaten Royal Mail’s ability to deliver the Universal Service and leave millions of rural households, who are already suffering from a lack of services, even more isolated.
Countryside Alliance calls for:
- Government to instruct Ofcom to bring forward its planned review of end-to-end competition of direct delivery mail, which is scheduled for 2017.
- Ofcom to guarantee regulation that ensures fair competition across the whole of the UK.
- Government to ensure that rural communities are not left isolated due to lack of services.