Royal Mail could be allowed to cut its letter deliveries to five days a week or three under options put forward by the industry watchdog as it warned the UK postal service risks becoming “unsustainable” without reform.
Ofcom said Britain’s universal postal service “must modernise” as it outlined proposals for its overhaul following a review amid calls from Royal Mail to ditch Saturday letter deliveries due to slumping demand.
Ofcom said that the two “primary options” being mooted include changes to the number of days that letters are delivered a week.
That could mean that letters are only delivered to households and businesses five, or even three times a week.
But the Government would have to change the law for this to happen.
This could save Royal Mail between £100m and £650m, the regulator said.
The other option is to make changes to slow down letter deliveries, meaning that it would take three or more days for most letters to arrive, although next-day deliveries would still be available when required.
This could save the company £150m to £650m.
It stressed that downgrading Royal Mail’s delivery targets “was not an option”.
Ofcom said it wanted a “national debate” on the future of the UK’s postal service, given that the number of letters being posted has halved since 2011.
Ofcom chief executive Dame Melanie Dawes said: “Postal workers are part of the fabric of our society and are critical to communities up and down the country.
“But we’re sending half as many letters as we did in 2011, and receiving many more parcels.
“The universal service hasn’t changed since then, it’s getting out of date and will become unsustainable if we don’t take action.
“So we’ve set out options for reform so there can be a national discussion about the future of universal post.
“In the meantime, we’re making sure prices will remain affordable by capping the price of second class stamps.”
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