“Save Our Royal Mail” says campaign group
The Royal Mail privatisation has been a hot topic in the past few weeks. We’ve written about the Royal Mail sell off on Tamebay and Royal Mail themselves have put their points across. Today it’s the turn of Mario Dunn, Campaign Director of Save Our Royal Mail to set out his thoughts on the potential sale and what he foresees to be the long term effects of such a sale.
Royal Mail provides an absolutely vital part of the on-line fulfillment process for a significant majority of internet small retailers. Yet this community is extremely sensitive to postage price increases, as was witnessed this year when new pricing rules came in for small packets and parcels. Indeed significant increases in postage costs can wipe out at a stroke the already thin margins many in the on-line small business community make.
So it comes as no surprise when Tamebay recently reported that small e-commerce businesses are very worried about the prospect of Royal Mail being privatised. Despite the increase in competition in the carrier sector, privatising Royal Mail will not result in lower prices – quite the opposite. In his Tamebay blog, Nick Landon MD of Royal Mail Parcels claimed that “affordable prices are protected in legislation”. That only applies to second class stamps. Parcel and packet prices are not covered by price regulation.
Royal Mail’s dominant position in the public sector has held down postage prices for private carriers. The new owners of Royal Mail will not be impressed with its current margin rate of around 5%. Increasing revenue from its biggest growth stream – parcels and packets – will be inevitable. Once that happens other carriers will happily follow suit.
Another issue of major concern is the future of what is called the universal postal service. To you and me that is the six day a week delivery to every address in the country. It is of immense value to British business but in some parts of the country very expensive to operate. The government claims that these deliveries are protected by law. It is a weak protection. The economic regulator Ofcom is obliged to ensure the universal service is self financing. Inevitably in time it – and Ministers will come under pressure to allow Royal Mail to reduce its costs by reducing its commitments. Of course when that happens Michael Fallon an advocate of the current universal service will not be the Minister responsible.
Ministers are quick to reject this argument, but many analysts and postal service experts have said that this privatisation heralds the end of the current universal postal service.
It’s an era when we know the cost of everything but the value of nothing, and that applies precisely to Royal Mail. For hundreds of years it has been there to serve Britain’s people and businesses, acting as oil in the engine of the economy. It served us not for its own sake but for our sake.
That is all changing now and of course those who most need Royal Mail’s services are the users who will be most harmed by this privatisation. Small businesses, people in rural areas and the elderly are the most vulnerable to what is inevitably going to happen over the next few years.
It is a pity that groups such as the Federation of Small Businesses have been so quiet on an issue that is so vital to their membership. But it is not too late to let you local MP know what you think about the sale. Please visit our website SaveOurRoyalMail.org to do that and sign our petition.
We’re a small family business who have already been affected by the recent hikes on packet/small parcel prices, so aren’t particularly “good friends” with Royal Mail, BUT!
We contacted the campaign group to send us the “Save Royal Mail” postcards, because if/when RM is privatised, those price increases will only get worse, and the other carriers will increase their prices as well.
We now send out a postcard to our customers with every order, to make the public aware of the effects on them and to encourage them to send the card to their MP.
It probably won’t help, but at least we’ve tried.
If you want the postcards, simply contact the campaign group and ask for them, they arrived in a couple of days, and get sending them out!
Moan, or moan and DO SOMETHING
I’d like to address a comment in the final paragraph.
I’m a member of the FSB’s Surrey Policy Team, a group within the FSB made up of individual volunteer business owners.
Royal Mail is one of the policy issues we have been active on at a regional level, including being represented at a recent meeting with Damian Collins MP, the Conservative Party’s recently appointed small business champion where we specifically raised issues with Royal Mail’s international pricing (this was a few days before privatisation was announced).
At a national level, the FSB has numerous issues on it’s radar, but it needs input from the members to determine where it should focus it’s efforts. If any of you are members of the FSB, please contact your local branches, regional policy teams or national policy chairman and let them know how strongly you feel about the privatisation of Royal Mail. With lots of voices raising the issue, I’m sure the FSB will soon move from working quietly in the background on this issue to raising more vocal concerns !
Thanks for your comments.
We contacted FSB nationally to support the campaign and they declined.
We have asked them to make a submission to an upcoming Parliamentary select committee looking at the Royal Mail privatisation but they did not respond.
Perhaps, as you say, they are very busy. It is disappointing however, that the main voice of small business is largely absenting itself from something pretty fundamental to all businesses who use the postal system.
Grateful if you and other FSB supporters would urge HQ to wake up to this threat.
I don’t know if I am having a mad moment but I can’t see anywhere on their website to sign a petition ?
It’s the “Get Involved” link ;-)
Nice one, thanks Chris.