Rural post service must be protected

Post Box, Eastbourne, Do Not Post sign. MAYOAK0003552327
Post Box, Eastbourne, Do Not Post sign. MAYOAK0003552327

Greater powers may be needed to maintain a universal postal service to rural areas, MPs have warned.

The universal service obligation ensures postal deliveries are available to all parts of the UK – rural and urban – at the same cost and to the same standard.

It is an essential service to many people living in rural areas

The Rural Services Network is among the organisations to highlight the importance of the obligation and campaign for its retention. That view has now been supported by MPs sitting on the House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills select committee.

The universal service was not under immediate threat, said the committee. But this could change in a rapidly changing postal market, it warned.

Committee chairman Adrian Bailey said: “It is an essential service to many people, especially those living in rural areas, to those less able to travel and to older people.”

He said Ofcom needed to outline in more detail how it would respond quickly to changes in postal market conditions which may endanger the universal service obligation.

Ofcom had a difficult role in ensuring that the provision of a Universal Service was both financially sustainable and efficient, said a committee report on Thursday (12 March).

Mr Bailey said: “The postal sector is changing quickly, with declining volumes of letters, and a sharp increase in parcel volume arising from the rapid growth of internet shopping.”