Mail 3 days a week? Idea faces resistance in Britain

Mail 3 days a week?  Idea faces resistance in Britain

Britain’s postal service should consider reducing delivery to five days a week or even six to three days a week, the country’s regulator said on Wednesday, a move that has drawn opposition from lawmakers and businesses.

The Royal Mail, like the US Postal Service, has become increasingly plagued by service issues and financial pressures. Given the rising costs, there is a risk of the organization becoming “financially and operationally unsustainable in the long run”. According to a report by Britain’s communications regulator Ofcom,

The report found that reducing delivery to just three days a week would save Royal Mail 650 million pounds ($830 million) per year. Ofcom said Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Belgium have reduced the frequency of letter delivery or increased delivery times in recent years.

However, MPs rejected the proposal. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, whose Conservatives have a majority, said on Wednesday he is “fully committed” to ensuring Royal Mail is delivered six days a week. The service, which was privatized in 2013, is required by law to deliver mail six days a week, so any changes would require a vote in Parliament.

Scottish National Party Member of Parliament Richard Thomson said he opposed reducing Royal Mail delivery days because many people, particularly in rural areas, rely on postal services to transport documents and deliver packages in a reliable, cheap way. Were dependent on service.

“What is being proposed will be at the core of that notion,” Mr Thomson said. He said privatization had left Royal Mail on a path of putting the bottom line above customer service.

The number of letters sent in Britain has halved since 2011, with more people sending emails and text messages rather than handwritten notes. But the Post Office is still part of the fabric of British life. Its history goes back more than 500 years, when Henry VIII tasked his secretary to establish a national postal network to carry his mail and that of the Tudor court. Charles I Postal service opened to the public In 1635.

Other services in Britain also face tight budgets. A symbol of Britain’s welfare state, continuous cuts to the National Health Service have left the service underfunded and understaffed. After more than a decade of low economic growth and wage stagnation, three-quarters of people in Britain said they believed the country was becoming a worse place to live, compared to 49 percent in 2011. Said things were getting worse. Survey by Ipsos.

Dave Ward, general secretary of the Communication Workers Union, which represents postal workers, said in a statement on Wednesday that reducing deliveries to just three days a week would destroy Royal Mail as customers know it and would affect thousands of jobs. . “The proposal proved useless,” he said.

Tina McKenzie, policy chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, which represents small businesses and self-employed people, said a quarter of small businesses depend on the Postal Service, and cutting services would disrupt the economy.

Regulator Ofcom said the number of delivery days would be reduced without reducing the delivery target, but did not give details of how this would work. Under the new guidelines, next day service will still be available for urgent letters.

Royal Mail, which posted an operating loss of 419 million British pounds ($533 million) on an adjusted basis last year, said it expected to deliver four billion letters annually in five years, up from about 20 billion letters two decades ago. is less than.

Nick Reid, chief executive of the Post Office, a separate organization from Royal Mail, said in a statement on Wednesday that he agreed there should be a debate on how to modernize the postal service. Still, vulnerable people, older people and businesses depend on reliable letter service, he said, and “their needs must be considered in any review.”

In Ofcom’s poll, 79 percent of people said that some things will always need to be sent by post. According to the survey of more than 2,000 British adults in October and November, Saturday delivery was important to 58 percent of people, down from 63 percent in 2020. (The US Postal Service delivers only Priority Mail and Amazon parcels on Sundays.)

Britain’s Post Office has also been in the news in recent weeks over a year-old scandal in which hundreds of people who ran Post Office branches were wrongly accused of theft. An ITV series, “Mr Bates vs. the Post Office”, which began airing on 1 January, dramatized the fate of postal workers who were prosecuted in the courts for financial losses between 1999 and 2015 , which never happened.

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