Joan warns Tories' Royal Mail sell-off puts universal service under threat

Joan McAlpine MSP has warned that further privatisation of the postal service will lead to a reduced service, especially in rural areas like the south of Scotland. 

George Osborne announced the plan to sell off the final 30 per cent of shares in the postal service - despite there being no mention of it in the Tories General Election manifesto.

The coalition government sold off the majority of the Royal Mail in 2013. A committee of MPs found that it was underpriced by £1bn (click here to read more).

Now the most recent announcement has intensified fears that the Universal Service Obligation (USO), which ensures a six-day postal service to anywhere in the country, could be under threat. 

The SNP's Ms McAlpine - MSP for the south of Scotland said: 

"The UK government’s decision to privatise the remainder of Royal Mail poses real danger to the postal service, and in particular, the universal service obligation which is of huge importance to Scotland.

"Communities across the south of Scotland have already been short changed by the lack of a Universal Service Obligation (USO) for vital services such as broadband and mobile coverage. We cannot let that happen to the postal service as well.   

"Private delivery services charge more to deliver to rural areas as it takes longer and costs more to do so. A privatised postal service in a competitive market will undoubtedly put pressure on government to reduce the terms of the Universal Service Obligation, as its competitors cherry pick the profitable urban routes leading to a reduced service in rural and less affluent areas.

"It threatens to have particularly harmful consequences for Scotland, where so many of our rural communities and so much of our rural economy rely on the Royal Mail service."

 

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