Safeguards in place for postal services

Royal Mail has welcomed new safeguards for postal services in rural communities set out by the postal regulator Ofcom.

Under the proposals, access to Royal Mail’s estate of 115,500 post boxes will be protected with a requirement that 98 per cent of all households across the UK should be within half a mile of a post box.

Royal Mail is pleased that Ofcom has proposed revised requirement that provides protection to the country as a whole and recognises that the current post box estate provided by Royal Mail already meets the needs of users.

The new requirement would provide further protection for postal services to those in rural communities.

Ofcom recently confirmed that the scope of the Universal Service which guarantees the same service standards for the provision of postal services in rural and urban areas would remain unchanged.

Royal Mail is legally obliged to deliver to every address and daily deliveries to rural areas cannot be reduced in the event of the sale of Royal Mail.

This obligation is defined in law and cannot be changed unless approved by both Houses of Parliament.

Furthermore, access to postal services is underpinned by the Post Office branch network which is required to meet stringent Government accessibility criteria.

Currently 93.1% of people in the UK must be within a mile of a Post Office, and 99.7% within three miles.

Stephen Agar, managing director, consumer and network access at Royal Mail said: “Nine out of ten customers consider Royal Mail a core part of the community – particularly in rural areas, where we are part of the lifeblood of day to day communication. The number of post boxes in the UK – in both rural and urban areas - has remained stable for the past decade.”