Royal Mail warned over key targets
Royal Mail has been warned it could be fined after missing key performance targets, amid claims of "unnecessary" job cuts at the company.
Regulator Ofcom said the recently-privatised group missed a requirement to deliver 93% of all first class letters on the day after collection, reaching 91.7% in the year to March.
Royal Mail was also required to meet a 91.5% target of next-day delivery for first class post in almost all of the UK's postcode areas to provide a good level of service across the UK, and not just in more densely populated areas, but achieved this level in only 62% of the required postcode areas.
The group met other targets, including a requirement to deliver 98.5% of second class letters within three days of collection.
It either exceeded or narrowly missed targets relating to areas such as special delivery, parcels and delivery to the correct address.
"Ofcom is concerned about Royal Mail's failure to meet certain service targets, and has made clear to the company that it must take all necessary steps to meet these in future," the regulator said.
Ofcom said it will continue to monitor Royal Mail's performance closely, adding: "Should it miss the targets in future, Ofcom will consider opening a formal investigation which could result in enforcement action, including the possibility of fines."
Brian Scott of Unite, which represents 7,000 Royal Mail managers, said: "These results are disappointing, but not a real surprise given the way Royal Mail has been setting itself up for privatisation in the last year.
"Royal Mail has been making unnecessary job reductions and cutting corners to make it a more viable sell-off. Unite has been working with Royal Mail to examine the situation in delivery offices and we are increasingly concerned that they are about to implode.
"Unite members working in delivery offices are under a huge amount of pressure and this continues with no obvious solution."
Mike 'O Connor, chief executive of Consumer Futures said: "Consumers want a reliable postal service and they need to know they are getting what they pay for, especially given the number of price rises over successive years. Ofcom's analysis clearly shows that Royal Mail is falling short in this respect with no clear reason for these failures.
"There has been an improvement in Royal Mail's financial situation and consumers and businesses alike will expect to see that this results in better services."
Royal Mail said it was "disappointed" it did not meet all its targets, adding that in the first quarter of this financial year it did achieve its first and second class targets.
A spokesman said: "Royal Mail has the highest service specification of any major European country and we take our service performance very seriously.
"The quality of our service to customers is key to our success. We believe that our strong brands and high quality of service will drive growth in our parcels business."
Ofcom said Royal Mail's productivity was gradually improving, and s atisfaction with its services was high among most consumers,
Ofcom said Royal Mail was on a stronger financial footing, adding that the universal service of delivery across the UK for the same price was more secure.