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16.5 million people hit by letter delays in January, finds Citizens Advice

11 February 2021

Almost one in three people (31%) across the UK experienced a delay in sending or receiving letters during January 2021, new research by Citizens Advice has found. 

The charity also found:

  • Almost one in 20 people (4%) received no letters for the entire month
  • One in 14 people (7%) experienced serious negative consequences of struggling to receive post, like being unable to pay a bill, or missing a GP appointment or job interview. This doubled (14%) for those who were self-isolating or shielding
  • People across London (42%), the West Midlands (37%), and the South East (36%) were most likely to experience a delay

 Citizens Advice has also seen a 365% increase in the number of people looking for advice on Royal Mail delays on its website in January, compared to January 2020.

The charity has had people get in touch with concerns that missing mail has seen them unable to pay bills, apply for benefits, and receive vital support from the charity’s advice service.

Citizens Advice, the consumer advocate for the postal sector, is urging Royal Mail to ensure that:

  • Letters are delivered weekly at an absolute minimum, and delivery returns to normal levels as soon as possible 
  • People are given clear information on what’s happening in their area and how long delays could last 

 Alistair Cromwell, Acting Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“We know Royal Mail have faced new pressures during the pandemic, and postal workers have worked tirelessly to ensure we can all stay connected. But letter delivery is a vital public service, relied on by many for bills and other critical information.

 “Ensuring that people are able to receive letters at least once a week will provide reassurance to millions. We also urge Royal Mail to provide more transparency to people about what they can expect.”

Notes to editors

  1.      Royal Mail is the Designated Universal Service Provider in the UK. Royal Mail is required to provide a universal postal service, including delivery and collection of letters, six days per week, Monday to Saturday.   
  2. Online survey of 2,090 18+ UK adults carried out by Yonder Data Solutions 29-31 January 2021. Respondents were asked to exclude junk mail and flyers.
  3. Citizens Advice web page named “If your post sent with Royal Mail hasn’t arrived‘’ increased from 3,516 page views between 1 January and 31 January 2020 to 16,345 page views between 1 January and 31 January 2021. The web stats measure page views of 30 seconds and over, so we do not count short visits where readers would not read the page. We exclude the advisors in our network who are logged in to see our specialist content.
  4. Citizens Advice includes the national charity; the network of independent local Citizens Advice charities across England and Wales; the Citizens Advice consumer service; and the Witness Service.
  5. Citizens Advice is the statutory consumer advocate for energy and post. We provide supplier performance information to consumers and policy analysis to decision makers.
  6. The Citizens Advice Witness Service provides free, independent support for prosecution and defence witnesses in every criminal court in England and Wales.
  7. Citizens Advice offers Pension Wise services at 500 locations in England and Wales.
  8. Citizens Advice’s services are free, independent, confidential and impartial, and available to all regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  9. To get advice online or find your local Citizens Advice, visit
  10. For consumer advice, call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133 or 0808 223 1144 to talk in Welsh.
  11. We helped 2.6 million people face to face, by phone, email and webchat in 2017-18. For service statistics see our monthly publication Advice trends.
  12. Citizens Advice staff are supported by over 23,000 trained volunteers, working at over 2,500 locations in England and Wales.