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Is the Royal Mail's 'universal service' at risk from the government's latest sell-off?

By selling its stake the government is exchanging control over what the company does for £1.5 billion – it hopes.

The Labour Party has criticised the move; the unions have too.

The concern, they argue, is the future of the Universal Service - the obligation Royal Mail has to deliver six days a week to every address in UK for a single price.

The Royal Mail currently has an obligation to provide a universal service Credit: PA

This obligation is enshrined in law - but it is also one the company would rather not have.

Royal Mail as a whole is profitable, while the more remote parts of its business are not. Its business in Scotland, for example, is loss-making.

The previous Business Secretary, Vince Cable, believed the company was lobbying to have Universal Service diluted.He felt that the government should hold on to its stake and its influence for the long-term, although not indefinitely.

Last year, he used his power as a shareholder to effectively block a pay rise for the company's chief executive, Moya Green, which he considered excessive.

Cable has gone, the taxpayer stake is going too - but the Universal Service stays. For now.

ITV News business editor Joel Hills reports: