Concern over threat to rural post services

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A daily postal service to rural areas could be under threat claims the Rural Services Network.

The network made the assertion in a written submission to the House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Committee.

MPs on the committee are investigating competition in UK postal sector and the Royal Mail’s universal service obligation.

Under the obligation, Royal Mail must deliver to any address in the country six days a week – the same service for rural and urban areas.

But the Rural Services Network claims the recently privatised company is arguing that competition from other companies threatens to make regular daily postal deliveries to rural areas unsustainable.

The Rural Services Network said the rapid expansion of letter delivery competition in urban areas threatened Royal Mail’s ability to provide an affordable rural service.

A spokesperson for The Network said: “People living in rural areas value the six-day-a-week, one-price-goes-anywhere service that Royal Mail provides and want to see it continue.”

“In many cases, the universal service was the lynchpin of small businesses in rural areas who used the post to communicate and to send and receive goods around the country and abroad.”

Ofcom had a legal duty to protect the universal service and the power to review the situation, said the Network in its submission to the BIS committee inquiry.

The network said it was “increasingly concerned” that the rapid expansion of end-to-end postal deliveries would have negative implications for rural postal services.

Ofcom had refused to conduct a review the situation until the last possible moment allowed under legislation – at the end of 2015, says The network.

The spokesman said: “Ofcom’s reluctance to act puts the wellbeing and livelihoods of millions of people in rural areas across the UK at risk.”

“Ofcom should bring forward the review or the Government should intervene.”