Ruth Sunderland: Royal Mail reform is in this post
- There are solutions that can return the post to a reliable system
- But not if the government continues to thwart the president’s efforts to resolve the mess
- Reform has already taken place in most similar countries, but not here
As elections loom, there is a tinge of national self-sabotage in the air and a sense of the collapse of everyday life.
The root cause of this is the lack of energy and leadership in government.
On the stock market, it was worrying to see Arm Holdings rise to a record high last week as its shares traded in New York.
The failure to persuade Arm, a company with British roots, to float in London was a stunning own goal. But the government is still moving slowly on the reforms needed if the city is to remain a world-class financial centre.
On a much lower level for Ruth, domestic life is a tsunami of irritation. Bin Gab Collections. The roads are full of potholes. Family visits are disrupted by train strikes. Dealing with an NHS administrator is almost more stressful than being ill. Don’t even think about trying to contact HMRC about the new tax law. On top of that, the Christmas cards arrived in January, and some may still be on the way.
Cornerstone: There are solutions that can return our postal service to an efficient and reliable system
The postal situation is a model of national malaise, the feeling that nothing works anymore, even though everything costs more.
The price of a first class stamp has doubled, but Royal Mail is still failing to meet its delivery targets. An army of small investors, had they owned shares since the flotation in 2013, would have seen their investments reduced by 40 per cent.
There are solutions that could return our postal services to an efficient and reliable system, but not if the government continues to frustrate efforts by the new chief executive, the Anglophile German Martin Seidenberg, to sort out the mess. Reform has already taken place in most similar countries, but not here, largely because of the cowardice of our politicians.
Regulator Ofcom earlier this year made proposals to put Royal Mail on a healthier footing.
Rishi Sunak immediately intervened to say he would not support scrapping Saturday delivery, which is one of the proposals.
In fact, Saturday delivery can be maintained. The solution that is likely to find favor with Seidenberg is to continue offering service six days a week, with a slower service to what is now a second-tier centre.
This can be combined with a premium fast track service for letters that need to be delivered the next day, at a higher price than now. This way, urgent messages will arrive quickly.
The feeling at Royal Mail, based on customer reviews, is that people would be happy if junk mail took a little longer, provided it arrived at the expected time. Even hardline unions can be appeased if there is a clear plan that protects as many of their members’ jobs as possible.
No one wants to see mail in this country go the way it did in Denmark, where the universal service obligation – where a carrier has to deliver at the same price everywhere, no matter how far away – was abolished in January of this year. General. But the longer the current stalemate lasts, the more likely it is that the messaging service will collapse.
Major investors, including so-called Czech sphinx Daniel Kretinsky, appear not to be pushing for a spin-off of parcels company GLS from Royal Mail, but their tolerance has limits. The endgame would be massive taxpayer subsidies for the letter trade, or renationalization.
Royal Mail operates on a business model designed for volumes of up to 20 billion messages per day. This number has fallen to 7 billion and will fall to 4 billion within two years.
Fixed costs, including 36 UK flights a day to carry mail to remote parts of these islands, remain the same. The Government and Labor must realize that this is unsustainable.
(tags for translation) Daily Mail