Royal Mail fails to meet every target on postal deliveries

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The Independent Online

Beleaguered Royal Mail chiefs came under fire yesterday for cutting too many jobs after fresh figures showed they had missed all their delivery targets between April and June.

Beleaguered Royal Mail chiefs came under fire yesterday for cutting too many jobs after fresh figures showed they had missed all their delivery targets between April and June.

The Post Office was accused of providing an "appalling service" as just 88.3 per cent of first-class letters were delivered on time, compared with a target of 92.5 per cent.

In April, more than 1.7 million first-class letters failed to arrive on time, the worst performance for three years. The organisation is being forced to pay a record £50m in compensation for late delivery, and the industry's regulator warned there could be further financial penalties.

Dave Ward, of the Communication Workers Union, said the figures made "grim reading" and the biggest problem was insufficient resources. "In some areas, too many jobs have been taken out and they will have to be put back to make the service work."

Yesterday's figures showed that the Royal Mail missed all 15 of its targets during the three months to June, but its directors pointed out it had since met four of them.

Adam Crozier, the organisation's chief executive, who took personal responsibility for the letters division in May, said the problems had been at their worst at a time when a much-needed reorganisation was being introduced.

The scrapping of the second post and the introduction of a single daily delivery was blamed by managers for the low point in May, when only 87.2 per cent of first-class mail was delivered on time.

Mr Crozier said there was "real evidence" that the service was getting better. "Clearly, there were some problems in the spring but the service has improved, month-on-month, since May, and we are approaching our target."

The Royal Mail said 90.9 per cent of first-class post arrived the following day in July and around 92 per cent in August, the highest level for a year.

Peter Carr, chairman of postal watchdog Postwatch, described the figures as "appaling" and said they could not get much worse.

"We are consistently promised that performance will improve," he said. "These results show that service levels in the first quarter of this financial year did not improve on last year's very poor performance.

"For three years, customers have been paying higher prices for a declining service."

A spokesman for management pointed out that, while 30,000 employees had left under a modernisation programme, the decision to end the two delivery system meant that far fewer staff were needed. The spokesman said that while only 4 per cent of letters had been sent out on the second delivery, it had taken up 20 per cent of resources in terms of staffing and costs.

Royal Mail said it had to increase productivity because it would face competition from the private sector in two years. A spokesman pointed out that the organisation's £220m profit last year represented a return on capital of just 2.5 per cent, compared with 25 per cent at its Dutch counterpart.

Over the three months to June, the worst-performing postcode area was Oxford, where only 68 per cent of first-class mail was delivered the next day.

The worst area of the UK for letter delivery in July was Glasgow, where 80 per cent of first-class letters arrived on time.

Other poor performing regions included Lerwick (81.4 per cent), Swansea (81.9 per cent), Kirkwall (83.5 per cent), north London (85.3 per cent) and Liverpool (85.9 per cent).

Top performing areas included Kirkcaldy (96.5 per cent), Sunderland (96 per cent), Milton Keynes (95.7 per cent), Kingston upon Thames (94.9 per cent) and Sheffield (94.9 per cent).

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