Majority of adults in Scotland value standard prices for UK postal services to protect rural communities

Consumer Scotland survey comes as Ofcom reviews future of universal postal service

Consumers in Scotland place a high value on the protection of a comprehensive, good quality postal service.

A survey by Consumer Scotland shows strong support for standard prices for letters and parcels delivered across the UK.

The research, based on a YouGov survey commissioned by Consumer Scotland, found 77% of all adults who send letters in Scotland thought a single rate across the UK was important.

Of that group 80% said a single rate was important to support rural and remote communities. And 73% felt it would not be fair to those who have to pay more.

Previous research from Citizens Advice Scotland has shown half of rural consumers in Scotland say delivery of letters is an essential service for them. Separately Ofcom data shows that broadband and mobile services remaining poor in some locations.

Under the 2012 Universal Postal Services Order the regulator Ofcom set out the services that should be provided in the UK by the Royal Mail as part of the universal postal service.

These include at least one delivery of letters every Monday to Saturday and postal services that are affordable with uniform prices throughout the UK.

In September this year Ofcom announced it would review the future of the universal postal service as a result of changing demand. The regulator has highlighted the number of letters sent and received across the UK has declined by 46% over the last decade, as people and businesses increasingly use digital alternatives, with the average cost of delivery increasing. At the same time, parcel deliveries have become increasingly important.

Earlier this month, Ofcom fined Royal Mail £5.6m for failing to meet its first and second class delivery targets in the 2022/2023 financial year.

The cost of postage is also increasing. In April this year the price of a first class stamp increased by 15p to £1.10 and then rose again in October to £1.25. Second class stamps have risen by 7p to 75p this year.

Consumer Scotland’s Universal Postal Service report found consumers in Scotland value tracking and recorded delivery as important services provided by Royal Mail – at 82% and 80% respectively.

Around half of respondents valued the importance of six days of letter delivery (53%) and letter delivery at the weekend (48%). The most common reasons consumers stated for wanting to maintain six day and weekend delivery were timeliness and quality of service for consumers, with some small business owners saying they worked and sent letters during the weekend.

Consumer Scotland Postal Policy Manager Diarmuid Cowan said:

“Our research clearly shows consumers in Scotland value many of the core aspects of a universal postal service. Tracking letters and recorded delivery were considered important to consumers. And there was support for one price postage in order to protect rural communities.

“Consumer Scotland will be engaging with Ofcom throughout their review, providing insight and evidence on the needs of consumers in Scotland, including engagement on the findings and data in this report. Highlighting the requirements of consumers in rural and remote communities will be an important part of this work.

“We will consider what future consumer research may be required to inform discussion of the options Ofcom will set out in its report to ensure the consumer interest is at the heart of any future change to the universal postal service.”


The Universal Postal Service

Consumer Scotland commissioned YouGov plc to survey a representative sample of adults living in Scotland on their attitudes to postal services. Data was collected between 20th February and 14th March 2023, with a total sample size of 2,007 individuals.

The sample was adults aged 16+ in Scotland. The figures have been weighted by gender, age, social grade, region and urban/rural area.

Consumer Scotland is the statutory body for consumers in Scotland. Established by the Consumer Scotland Act 2020, we are accountable to the Scottish Parliament.

Consumer Scotland is the levy-funded advocacy body on postal services for consumers in Scotland.