Imagine a world where changing trends was already seeing a shift from physical to online shopping. Then imagine a virus stopping great swathes of people leaving the house. From there, you might be tempted to draw the conclusion that, if you were in the delivery business, now is the optimum time to make money? This month of English lockdown has seen parcel volumes reaching Black Friday levels almost every week.
To disprove your theory, in quite dramatic style, comes Royal Mail. At a time when Hermes are recruiting over 10,000 new staff and DPD a further 6,000, bosses at Royal Mail are talking about curtailing Saturday deliveries to save a few pounds.
It’s difficult to put the blame on anything but rank bad management and over-regulation. The former state owned business is still governed by OFCOM, and has to deliver letters six days a week, but parcels for only five.
How many of us have marveled at ordering an item on a Saturday afternoon and being startled as it drops through the door on a Sunday morning? Yet Royal Mail thinks it can reduce its losses by cutting, rather than extending services.
Yet with positive noises coming from the watchdog, saying that dropping a Saturday service would still meet the needs of 97% of customers’ needs, there are no new announcements on upgrading the parcel service to increase profits. The straightjacket of obligations seems to have stifled all entrepreneurial flair in its bosses.
Regulations are the enemy of any business and it should be the government’s job to slash red tape so evolution takes place alongside our changing world. Successive administrations have merely added to the burden and even if we leave the EU at the end of 2020, it could be years before Brussels edicts are removed from the statute books.
Regulation causes too much inward navel-gazing and not enough outward searching for opportunities. Our tired, dated mail service is a classic example why Brexit negotiators should not accept the “level playing field” wanted by M. Barnier.
The Libertarian Party calls for that process to be speeded up and red tape slashed. With that, we stand a far better chance in trading competitively. Let’s not stick our heads in the sand like Royal Mail.
Martin Day – Party Secretary