'Unsustainable' Royal Mail could cut deliveries down to three days a week

Ofcom said Royal Mail could make cost savings of £100 million to £200 million if letter deliveries were reduced to five days, ITV News' Chris Choi reports

The Royal Mail's letter delivery service could be cut in half to just three days a week as an industry watchdog warns the postal service is currently "unsustainable" without reform.

Ofcom said Britain’s universal postal service “must modernise” as it outlined proposals for its overhaul following a review amid calls from Royal Mail to ditch Saturday letter deliveries due to slumping demand.

The regulator said that two main options are being mooted, cutting the six-day a week service to five days or three.

However, either of those would require government and parliament to change current laws, with another proposal being to overhaul first and second class and business services.

Such a move could see the introduction of a service where most deliveries take up to three days or longer, with a next-day service still available for any urgent letters.

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Ofcom said Royal Mail could make cost savings of £100 million to £200 million if letter deliveries were reduced to five days; and £400 million to £650 million if reduced to three days.

Its savings could be up to £650 million if the large majority of letters were delivered within three days.

Ofcom chief executive Dame Melanie Dawes said: "Postal workers are part of the fabric of our society and are critical to communities up and down the country.

"But we're sending half as many letters as we did in 2011, and receiving many more parcels. The universal service hasn't changed since then, it's getting out of date and will become unsustainable if we don't take action.

"So we've set out options for reform so there can be a national discussion about the future of universal post.

"In the meantime, we're making sure prices will remain affordable by capping the price of second class stamps."

Commenting on the Ofcom review, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said: "This feels like a slap in the face for so many who already have the pain of delayed deliveries. We shouldn't be receiving a second class service.

"Regular deliveries are what the country has come to expect. For a company already struggling to meet its delivery targets, this doesn't sit right."

However, despite the suggestions from Ofcom, Postal Affairs Minister Kevin Hollinrake said that government was committed to a six-day service from the Royal Mail.

He said: "I believe the Royal Mail can build a sustainable model. But that sustainable model must be based on a-six day service.”

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