Royal Mail is only permitted to deliver postal packets to certain points specified in the Postal Services (Universal Postal Service) Order 2012 ("the Order") and Designated USP ("DUSP") Condition 1.2.2. That list does not currently include the premises neighbouring the addressee of a postal item. Section 4(c) of the Order does however provide that an item may be delivered to another delivery point approved by Ofcom.
In July 2011 Royal Mail applied for, and was granted, regulatory approval to undertake a trial of the delivery of items which could not be delivered to an addressee (for example because the item is too large to fit through the letterbox or requires a signature) to neighbours (the "delivery to neighbour" service) .
The trial took place in six areas across the UK from the end of November 2011 to the end of February 2012. The delivery to neighbour process has continued to date in the six areas in view of the successful outcome of the trial.
Royal Mail's report of the trial shows that 92% of postal recipients whose item was left with a neighbour, and 90% of neighbours who accepted an item, expressed overall satisfaction with the experience. 6% were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied. 1% were fairly dissatisfied and 1% very dissatisfied. In addition in the trial areas there was a reduction of approximately 40% in the number of undeliverable items that were returned to delivery offices.
Consumer Focus undertook its own research into the trials and published a report in August 2012 which provided generally positive feedback. Consumer Focus has expressed broad support for a national roll out although it did identify some issues, such as staff training, which it considers should be addressed in any national roll out.
Royal Mail submitted a formal request to Ofcom for approval of the delivery to neighbour service on a national basis. On 11 July 2012, Ofcom issued a consultation to seek views from stakeholders on Royal Mail's application. We noted the increase in goods purchased over the internet, by mail or by phone; that packets and parcel services are the method of delivery for these purchases and that other operators competing with Royal Mail are currently permitted to leave undelivered items with neighbours.
Having regard to our duty under section 29 of the Postal Services Act 2011 to carry out our functions in a way that we consider will secure the provision of a universal postal service, including the need for the provision of that service to be financially sustainable and efficient, we set out our provisional view that Royal Mail should be permitted to deliver items to neighbours to improve the convenience of the service for postal users, and enable a more efficient delivery system for Royal Mail. In the July consultation document we therefore proposed to allow a national roll out of delivery to neighbour. In making this proposal we took account of the positive results of the trial from Royal Mail's report and the research undertaken by Consumer Focus. We considered that the delivery to neighbour service would further the interests of citizens and consumers by saving people the time and costs incurred in arranging for undelivered postal packets to be collected at the delivery office or the Post Office or delivered on a different day.
The consultation was originally due to close on 24 August 2012 but due to a technical error affecting the submission of responses through the web site, the period of consultation was extended to 12 September 2012 to enable respondents to resubmit their responses. We received 832 responses to the consultation document.
Also in July, Royal Mail published proposals to change its Inland Letter and Parcel Schemes to enable delivery to neighbour to be undertaken in accordance with its published terms and conditions for non-contract customers. Consumer Focus responded to these proposals and Royal Mail published its final decision on these amendments. The new schemes will only be introduced if Ofcom accepts Royal Mail's application .
This statement sets out a summary of the responses to the consultation, our analysis of those responses and, having taken account of the representations made to us, the reasons for our decision which is to approve the neighbours of addressees as "delivery points" for the purposes of the Order and DUSP Condition 1.2.2 for certain postal items.