The policy statement in Section 3 sets out the circumstances in which Ofcom exempts Royal Mail from its requirement under initial Condition DUSP 1 (or under any regulatory condition that replaces initial Condition DUSP 1 which has substantially the same effect as that initial condition) to deliver letters to every home or premises every working day.
This statement also lists the alternative identifiable points for the delivery of letters approved by Ofcom and provides circumstances where universal service deliveries may be temporarily suspended.
A key aim of this policy is to ensure that the needs of people who are disabled, chronically sick, or of pensionable age are properly addressed, where the universal service cannot be provided, for either health and safety or difficulty of access reasons.
The policy and Direction were last modified on 1 October 2008. The modifications made on that date reflected the fact that the Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Act ("the CEAR Act") had been given Royal Assent in July 2007 and changed the framework for consumer advocacy. The CEAR Act abolished the Consumer Council for Postal Services ("Postwatch") and established a new consumer advocacy body (the National Consumer Council (known as "Consumer Focus")).
The duration of the Direction made on 1 October 2008 referred to above was extended until 30 June 2011. No other changes were made to the Direction.
Following a consultation, issued on 16 November 2011, Ofcom has decided to extend the Direction until 31 December 2013. However, this does not preclude the policy being reviewed again during 2013 and, where necessary, changes made to ensure consistency with the outcomes of the review of the reasonable needs of users due to conclude in 2013.
At this time, it is necessary to modify the current policy and Direction to reflect the coming into force of the Postal Services Act 2011. Under the Postal Services Act 2011, regulatory responsibility for postal services transferred from Postcomm to Ofcom. In addition, the existing licensing regime has been replaced with a general authorisation regime. As a result, the existing conditions of Royal Mail's licence have been transposed into "initial conditions" under the general authorisation regime. These initial conditions came into effect on 1 October 2011 and have substantially the same effect as the conditions in the old licences. On 13 December 2011, Ofcom published a consultation setting out a review of the initial conditions and proposing a number of wide-ranging changes to those regulatory conditions to ensure that they remain fit for purpose and are consistent with our wider objectives .
Under the Postal Services Act 2011, while the circumstances in which Royal Mail may be exempted from its requirement to deliver letters to every home or premises every working day have not changed, the legal basis for that exemption is now set out in section 33(2) of the Postal Services Act 2011 and in Condition DUSP 1 of the initial conditions .
Therefore, the only modifications that we are making to the policy and Direction are to reflect the fact that Ofcom now has regulatory responsibility for postal services instead of Postcomm and to replace references to the Postal Services Act 2000 and Condition 2 in Part 2 of Schedule 2 of Royal Mail's licence with references to the Postal Services Act 2011 and Condition DUSP 1 (and any regulatory condition that replaces initial Condition DUSP 1 which has substantially the same effect as that initial condition).
We received four responses to our consultation. None of the respondents disagreed with the modifications that we proposed to make. The respondents did, however, raise some additional issues with the Direction. For reasons explained below in Section 2, we do not consider that it is necessary to make any further changes to the policy and Direction in response to those responses and have decided to adopt the Direction as set out in the consultation.