'No significant benefit' from open mail market

Opening up the postal market to competition has seen "no significant benefit" for consumers and smaller businesses, according to an official report today.











A review of liberalisation also found there was a "substantial threat" to the financial stability of the Royal Mail and the universal postal service.



"We have come to the conclusion, based on evidence submitted so far, that the status quo is not tenable. It will not deliver our shared vision for the postal sector," said the report.















The panel carrying out the review said in its initial findings that there was now a "strong case" for taking action to make sure the Royal Mail has a sustainable future.

"As we see rapid changes in the way people communicate, the way in which the postal sector is regulated will also need to change, and we need to establish how best to create the incentives for Royal Mail to modernise its operation, providing a stable, financial future."



The report said the postal market was changing and faced an "uncertain future", especially as firms looked to cut costs in the face of challenging economic conditions.



In the past two years, competition in the collection, sorting and transportation of bulk mail from businesses has expanded rapidly and much more quickly than was anticipated, the report found.



But there was virtually no competition to the Royal Mail in the delivery of letters despite a belief that some rival firms could invest in deliveries, perhaps twice a week, in urban centres.



"Others point out significant barriers to entry. We will need to consider this further, along with the risk that more extensive competition could make the universal service unsustainable."



Large firms had seen clear benefits from liberalisation, including more choice, lower prices and more assurance about the quality of the mail service, said the report.



But there had been no significant benefits for consumers and smaller businesses, who believed that Royal Mail's service offered good value for money as it stood.



The report added: "But they have no choice in provider and are paying higher stamp prices. The introduction of a pricing methodology based on weight and dimensions makes life more difficult."



Abolishing Sunday collections and the move to a single daily delivery were more visible to consumers and small firms and were seen as a reduction in services.



The Royal Mail faced "many challenges", but modernising its services will be more difficult as volumes fall.



Industrial action and a £3.4bn pension deficit also posed constraints, said the report.















A Royal Mail spokesman said: "We welcome this report and Royal Mail absolutely agrees with the report's conclusion that the one-price-goes-anywhere universal service to the UK's 28 million addresses is at the heart of a successful postal service.

"The report identifies the ways in which the open postal market is clearly not working and Royal Mail looks forward to submitting its further views on the changes that are required in the market, with the way it is regulated and on how the universal service can be sustained and financed going forward."



Chris Hannant, head of policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "Whilst large firms are able to use alternatives to Royal Mail following the liberalisation of the postal service, many smaller businesses remain heavily reliant on them for final mile delivery.



"The only way to improve its service and win back lost business is by pushing ahead with modernisation. Firms want an efficient, value-for-money and reliable service, which Royal Mail must be able to deliver without the fear of more industrial action."

News
Mickey Rourke celebrates his victory against opponent Elliot Seymour
people
News
Gordon and Tana Ramsay arrive at the High Court, London
newsTV chef gives evidence against his father-in-law in court case
News
Actor Burt Reynolds last year
people
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Austen Lloyd: Company Secretary

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: EAST ANGLIA - SENIOR SOLICITOR LEVEL ROLE** -...

Citifocus Ltd: German Speaking Client Specialist

£Attractive Package: Citifocus Ltd: Prestigious asset management house seeks a...

Citifocus Ltd: Performance & Risk Oversight

£Negotiable: Citifocus Ltd: This is a varied role focusing on the firm's mutua...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Sales Director - SaaS (SME/Channel) - £140,000 OTE

£90000 - £140000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Are you a high achievin...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game