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Royal Mail fails to hit first-class delivery target across the whole of UK

Royal Mail truck crossing Southwark Bridge in London.

Royal Mail has failed to meet its target for next-day delivery of first-class mail in every UK area for the year ending in September, new data reveals. 

The Observer analysed the performance figures of the postal service.

Performance results for over 120 postal areas show that none achieved the target of delivering 93 percent of first-class mail within one working day. 

Read More: Royal Mail Faces £5.6 Million Fine For Failing Delivery Targets

Ofcom fined Royal Mail £5.6 million for missing its first- and second-class targets in the 2022-23 financial year.

Recent figures for July to September highlight that over one in three first-class letters did not reach their destination the following day in certain areas. 

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This includes north-west London, Oxford, Watford, Luton, Wolverhampton, and Stoke-on-Trent locations. 

The cost of a first-class stamp increased from £1.10 to £1.25 in October.

Failing on first and second class mail targets

Royal Mail faces the possibility of further action from Ofcom, with only 74.4 percent of first-class mail delivered within one working day from six months to September. 

Read More: Royal Mail Faces Ofcom Investigation Over Missed Delivery Targets

Additionally, nearly 93 percent of second-class mail was delivered within three working days, falling short of the 98.5 percent target.

This marks more than three years of Royal Mail failing to meet its letter targets, missing its first-class delivery goal in every UK postal area for five consecutive quarters. 

The company attributes these shortcomings to higher-than-usual vacancy rates and sickness absences in the first two quarters of the 2023-24 financial year.

It prompted a significant recruitment drive since the summer.

Consumer dissatisfaction with delayed mail deliveries, including missed appointments and correspondence, has been a recurring concern since the pandemic. 

Read More: Royal Mail Faces Ofcom Investigation Over Missed Delivery Targets

Dennis Reed, director of Silver Voices, the campaigning organisation for senior citizens, said: “They have put up the price of a first-class stamp to a ridiculous price of £1.25 and at the same time the quality of service has been plummeting. 

“It’s not recognisable from the service that we used to get a few years ago.”

Royal Mail's response highlights efforts to address staff shortages, with approximately 500 employees hired weekly since the summer and the introduction of well-being programs. 

A Royal Mail spokesperson said there had been “higher than usual vacancy rates and sickness absences at delivery offices”. 

They said around 500 staff had been hired weekly since the summer and wellbeing programmes were launched to support employees.

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The spokesperson said there was an urgent need to reform the Universal Service Obligation (USO).

Under the USO, Royal Mail has to deliver letters to every UK address six days a week. 

However, the company wants to transition to a five-day delivery schedule. 

Concurrently, Ofcom is in the process of reviewing the future implications of this obligation.

The spokesperson added: “Letter volumes have fallen by more than 60% since their peak. We welcome Ofcom’s review of the universal service, but the need for reform is urgent.”

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