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The future of our postal service is being debated. We want to hear from you

Letter volumes have halved in the UK since 2011 and people are receiving more parcels which is threatening the financial viability of the postal Universal Service Obligation (USO). The current USO guarantees a ‘one price goes anywhere’ principle of affordable postal services to all UK addresses and requires Royal Mail to deliver letters to every address in the UK, six days a week, at a uniform price, and parcels five days a week. Given the significant cost to Royal Mail of delivering the universal service, there is an increasing risk it will become financially and operationally unsustainable in the long term. 

With the decline in mail and increase in parcels, Ofcom has started a national debate on the future of the UK’s postal service and wants to hear your views on their options, which include:  

  • A reduction in the frequency of delivery for letters delivery days in the service reduced from six to five or even three. 
  • Changes to delivery speeds for letters - so most letters are delivered through a service taking up to three days or longer, with a next-day service still available for any urgent letters. 
  • Government subsidy to maintain the current USO (via public subsidy or from an industry fund). 

The Countryside Alliance has always supported the USO, particularly the one price to deliver to anywhere service but recognises times are changing and it is timely to review this obligation. However, we must ensure any new USO is fit for purpose and meets the needs of households and businesses in rural communities. We would value your thoughts and they would form part of our submission to Ofcom to ensure we are fully representing our members and supporters living and working in rural areas. You can take part in our survey here.

Research commissioned by Ofcom shows: 

  • Postal services and postal workers remain essential to those who rely on them.  
  • Eight in 10 people (79%) say some things will always need to be sent by post. 
  • Three-quarters of those who use postal services (74%) say they rely on the post for letters. 

Ofcom’s research shows that people want to get what they pay for. But people are not currently getting a reliable service because of Royal Mail’s recent poor performance, for which Ofcom fined the company £5.6m last year.  


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