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Millions without mail

24 September 2020

Millions without mail [ 4.4 mb]

The problem

Since 2010, 7 million people have been unable to receive their own post.

This is either because they don’t have an address, they’re moving around frequently or someone is intercepting their post.

This problem disproportionately affects marginalised people. Homeless people, survivors of domestic abuse, Gypsies and Travellers, and people living in precarious dwellings such as boats are far more likely to face these problems.

Missing letters causes people significant harm. This includes missing out on health care services, benefits, housing and employment opportunities, as well as financial losses and debt.

The impact 

Over the last 10 years:

Essential services

4.7 million people have missed appointments with key services because of missed letters. This includes financial, health and employment related services, as well as court appearances.


3 million people have experienced financial losses as a result of missed letters. On average this amounts to a £850 loss per person.


3.6 million people have missed at least one, if not more, healthcare appointment because of missed letters.


1.8 million people have missed out on employment opportunities as a result of missing letters.

The solution 

The government should invest in an ‘Address & Collect’ service, provided at post offices, to ensure people in unsafe or precarious living situations have equal access to post. 

This is the third time since 2018 that Citizens Advice has highlighted the significant harm marginalised groups of people in the UK face because they can’t access their post. 

As the agency responsible for post policy, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) should make it a priority to ensure the postal service is truly universal.

Access to post will be essential for many people to recover from the financial shock of the coronavirus pandemic. The government should use the upcoming spending review to secure funding for an Address & Collect service and help people to get back on their feet as quickly as possible.