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Royal Mail admits one in five first class letters don't arrive the next day

By Emma Munbodh & Flora Byatt

Royal Mail have admitted that not all items sent first class arriving next day, saying their performance "needs to improve." The postal giant has revealed that only four-fifths of post sent first class actually arrives the next day as its supposed to.

Royal Mail has normally met this target, including delivering first class mail even on Saturdays. But despite the rise in the price of stamps - which are now 95p - mail is not making in time, after being hampered by the pandemic, like nearly everything else.

The company said the standards had dropped because of employees having to self-isolate and the service being "materially impacted", reported The Mirror. Royal Mail has a target of 93% of first-class letters being delivered the next day, but reporting its annual quality of service statistics, this is in fact 81.8%. During the pandemic's peak, the figure stood at 74.7%, so there has been improvement.

Grant McPherson, the chief operating officer at Royal Mail, said: "We know that we need to improve our performance and some of the steps we have taken to address the issues are bearing fruit. Our transformation programme is introducing new ways of working, and a new delivery model will optimise our network for parcels."y

It is unlikely to appease customers, when first class stamp prices surged up from 10p, with second class stamps seeing a similar rise, by 2p to 68p. Royal Mail attributed the price hike as people now send fewer letters, and inflation also increasing the costs. The company said it could not provide its "universal service" if the prices weren't put up.

Royal Mail came under fire last year after proposing to get rid of Saturday post, which would break the universal service obligation. However, the Covid lockdown meant 1.1 billion less letters were delivered.

Campaigners have said doing away with first class post would impact the vulnerable members of society most. Jan Shortt, of the National Pensioners Convention, said: "Older people, particularly those living alone, as well as other vulnerable groups unable to access online services, will be the most affected by this decision.

"Like those delivering milk and other goods to homes across the country, postal workers are also the eyes and ears of communities, making sure that those known to be alone and vulnerable are staying safe and well.

"Older people, more than any other group in society still rely on the post as their preferred method of their communication.

"Royal Mail may see this as a necessary cost cutting exercise and that one day out of six without post is insignificant, but we would ask them to consider those living alone and that receiving a nice letter, card or parcel on a Saturday morning actually gives them something to look forward to and sees them through until the beginning of the week."

Plans to push back the deadline to use old stamps has also been agreed.

Originally, the British public would have had until January 31 to use existing stamps, including seasonal ones, before the new barcode-only stamp came in.

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