Responding to Ofcom proposals on regulation of the postal service, Kellin McCloskey, Head of Postal Policy, Consumer Focus Post, said:
‘The proposals made by Ofcom today suggest major change for the future of Northern Ireland’s postal service. We must ensure the right balance between putting Royal Mail on a stable footing and ensuring value and service for consumers.
‘It is clear that the current situation has become unsustainable. Mail volumes are declining and Royal Mail has not been a paragon of efficiency. But while change may be necessary, this consultation needs to stress test its ideas to make sure that consumers are assured of a Universal Service which provides good value and reliable service.
‘Mail services are going to get more expensive for consumers. While the unit cost of a stamp may seem small, consumers have a right to expect value for money for all services. If customers are to pay more for their post then the quality of service must be good, reliable and backed up by effective regulation.
‘If what emerges is a core regulated postal service centred on the current 2nd class service, Ofcom must ensure that the scope of that service covers all consumer needs, and that necessary protections and standards of performance are hardwired into the service.
‘This is a big opportunity for Royal Mail and it has to show that it can deliver good value and a reliable service for consumers. We welcome the fact that Ofcom intends to keep the service under close scrutiny and to step back in should the changes fail consumers.’
Notes to editors:
1. Ofcom’s consultation can be found on www.ofcom.org.uk
2. First class stamps have increased in price by 70% since 2003 and second class stamp prices have risen by almost 90%
3. Since 2006 postal volumes have declined by 25% and this is predicted in the Hooper review to continue to decline by 25-40% in the next five years.