Skip to navigation Skip to content Skip to footer


Ensuring post offices can support resilient communities

Post offices can play a vital role in sustaining dynamic and resilient local communities. As the largest-remaining universal face to face service provider, the post office network is relied upon to fill the gaps left by bank branch closures and ensure vulnerable people can access digital only services.

Why things need to change 

In the last 3 years the number of people using post offices for banking services has doubled, including 1 in 5 local businesses. As services have shifted online, the post office has served as a lifeline for people in rural areas or people who aren't able to use the internet. During lockdown, the post office network stepped up to ensure these people could still pay bills, access cash and other essential services. As many retailers leave the high street due to the financial impact of coronavirus, its role looks set to increase.

Since 2013, the number of temporarily closed post offices has doubled and an increasing number of rural communities now rely on outreach services that are open on average just 7 hours a week.

What we are asking for 

We would like government to commit to further funding so that the post office network is well-funded into the future and can effectively serve all communities in the UK.

Protecting and strengthening postal regulation

Ofcom is conducting a review of postal regulation. This review will determine the future of the rules that govern the provision of essential services in the postal market -including the Universal Service Obligation, the safety net that keeps post fair and affordable for everyone. 

We will work to ensure that any changes to the regulatory framework are made in response to consumers’ needs.

Why things need to change 

Our recent work has highlighted that parcel delivery is now an essential service. According to Ofcom, nearly 2.6 billion items were delivered to households across the UK in 2018-19 - an increase of 10% on the previous year. Volumes have continued to increase dramatically as physical shops were closed during Covid-19 lockdowns and people shopped online and had goods delivered. Office for National Statistics figures reveal that, in June 2020, people in Great Britain spent almost £2.5 billion per week online, almost a billion pounds more than in January 2020.

But parcel delivery doesn’t work well for consumers. In 2019, we found that 6 in 10 consumers experience significant problems with parcel delivery. Large spikes in visits to our parcels online advice pages during lockdowns supports our previous findings that problems increase with parcel volumes as set out in our report on Trends in the postal service market and work on next day delivery. 

In addition post has kept communities connected throughout national and regional lockdowns this year. People are using post to keep in touch with loved ones and receive vital information. But, not everyone can access their post in the same way. Our Millions without mail report showed that 7 million people haven’t been able to receive their letters at some point in the last decade. These people face significant harm as a result, like missing out on health care services, benefits, housing and employment opportunities. It’s also resulted in financial loss and debt. This problem disproportionately affects marginalised people such as survivors of domestic abuse, homeless people and members of the Gypsy and Traveller community.

What we are asking for 

We are calling for Ofcom to improve the parcel delivery market so it can achieve better consumer outcomes through its regulatory review process.

We’re asking the government to invest in an Address & Collect service provided at post offices to provide equal access to post for those in unsafe or precarious living situations.