As you may know, under the Postal Services Act 2011 the Royal Mail is a private organisation and it is the responsibility of the independent postal services regulator Ofcom to ensure that the company carries out its functions properly.
Ofcom does not, however, handle individual complaints, and advises that complaints about Royal Mail should be addressed in the first instance to the company directly. In the event the complaint concerns the Royal Mail’s regulated postal services, and the company cannot provide a resolution, it can issue a ‘deadlock' notice that will allow the customer to ask the Independent Postal Redress scheme to investigate the case.
The Universal Postal Service is a vital part of our economy and society. Individuals and communities across the UK rely on this service and the Government’s commitment to it has always been crystal clear.
Competition is important and can drive efficiency, but it should not be allowed to undermine the future viability of the universal service. I am glad the Government has given Ofcom the power to monitor what is happening in the postal market and if necessary, the power to intervene to level the playing field.
I understand that regulatory changes in the United States mean that it will be charging other countries more for postal delivery in the United States. Royal Mail has passed this cost on to customers in the UK, but it will not profit from doing so.
Following a successful national trial, Royal Mail is adding unique barcodes to all their regular ‘everyday’ stamps to reinvent them for the future. The unique barcodes will facilitate operational efficiencies, enable the introduction of added security features and pave the way for innovative services.
While non-barcoded stamps will be phased out, they will remain valid until 31 January 2023. Customers are encouraged to use their non-barcoded stamps before this date. In recognising that this may not be possible for everyone, alternatively, non-barcoded stamps can be exchanged for the new barcoded version through Royal Mail’s ‘Swap Out’ scheme. This scheme will open on 31 March 2022 and customers will be able to use a Freepost address for swaps, ensuring accessibility.
I welcome that this scheme will allow for stamps purchased in good faith to be used at any time in the future, through a simple exchange process, and that adequate time has been provided for existing customers to adopt new changes.
Unfortunately, in relation to Early Day Motion 1017, I am not a great signer of Early Day Motions and do not regard them as an effective way of bringing about change.