Post letters industry data collection
Collection of quarterly data relating to access mail, end-to-end letters and other letters services provided by an operator other than Royal Mail.
Return submissions should be made through the Ofcom Online Services Portal.
Ofcom no longer accepts excel email submissions.
Guidance on submissions
For information on the data required, and the submission process, see our user guide for post letters return (PDF, 1.2 MB).
What should I do if I haven’t received my registration email to the Ofcom online services portal?
Check your junk mailbox. The registration email will have the subject line: 'Welcome to the Ofcom Online Services Portal’. If you haven't received it, email the Market Intelligence team and we'll send you a new registration email.
I am new to the Ofcom data collection process. How can I register myself on the Ofcom online services portal?
Please email the Market Intelligence team providing your full name, the company for which you are providing data, phone number, email address and job title. The team will then provide an account for you once they have completed their verification checks. Please note you will not be able to provide data for your organisation unless you have contacted the Ofcom Market Intelligence team first.
My return is not displayed. What should I do?
The post letters return is now live and available for completion for 2017-18. It should appear on the Scheduled Returns dashboard for each broadcasting licence your organisation and its related organisations hold. If there are any returns missing from your Schedule Returns dashboard, please email the Market Intelligence team.
I cannot change the status of my letters return to ‘Submit to Ofcom’.
This may be because you are registered as a data provider, but not as a data submitter. The data submitter should be a Finance Director or an authorised member of your organisation. If this is you, please email us to update your status. If this is not you, please ask your data submitter to log into the Ofcom Online Services Portal to complete the submission. If your organisation’s designated data submitter has not received log-in details, please email the Market Intelligence team and we will provide them with access.
Can I resubmit the data if I discover any errors?
If you wish to make any changes to your return after the data has been submitted, please email us and we will arrange for the submission to be re-opened.
As part of the March 2012 Regulatory Framework, and in pursuance of the functions and duties set out in the Postal Services Act 2011, Ofcom is committed to monitoring Royal Mail’s performance as well as monitoring changes in the postal industry. This includes reporting internally (on a quarterly basis) on the profitability and efficiency of Royal Mail’s universal service network, Royal Mail’s quality of service, and the extent of competition. Ofcom publishes an annual report setting out the key data and trends in the postal sector and reviewing the provision of a universal service. We use the data to identify any emerging market threats and how regulation through the imposition, modification or revocation of conditions under the Act is required.
Ofcom uses the information requested for the purposes of:
- Ofcom’s annual report in accordance with paragraph 12 of Schedule 1 to the Office of Communications Act 2002 which requires us to report on the performance of our duty under section 29 of the Act;
- Ofcom’s annual Communications Market reports which relate among other things to postal services in accordance with section 14 of the Communications Act 2003. See Ofcom's Communications Market Report;
- calculating administrative charges that may be due to Ofcom under Schedule 4 of the Act.
Failure to provide data
This information is requested under Section 55 and Schedule 8 of the Postal Services Act 2011, which sets out that Ofcom requires postal service providers to provide postal volume and revenue data, for use for such purposes as it sees fit. You are therefore required to ensure that your response is complete and accurate in any material particular. You may wish to seek your own independent legal advice.
Please note, Part 2 of Schedule 8 of the Postal Services Act 2011 sets out that failure to comply may result in enforcement action being taken by Ofcom to impose (among other things) a penalty of up to £50,000. Such action could also, in certain circumstances, result in Ofcom restricting or suspending your entitlement to provide postal services. Any offences under Part 2 of Schedule 8 of failing to provide the requested information or of providing false information may also be prosecuted.
Changes to collection of postal data
Data: Letter post volumes and revenues (end-to-end and access mail)
In February 2017, we published a proposal on making changes to the way we collect data from postal stakeholders, and asked for comments to be submitted by 6 March 2017.
We now confirm that we will cease collecting letters volumes and revenues data on a regular basis from those operators which handle fewer than two million letters and large letters a year. This change will apply from financial year 2017-18 (April 2017 to March 2018).
We consider that the change to our data collection will remove burdens from the smallest postal operators without having a material impact on our ability to monitor the market, for the reasons set out in our consultation document.
We received a single submission from a stakeholder in response to our proposal, who suggested that the proposed changes to our data collection would impair our ability to monitor the letters market, and in particular, the development of end-to-end competition. We have considered this submission. However, we continue to take the view that the change would not impair our ability to monitor the market for the same reasons as set out in the February proposal. In summary, these include the very low proportion of access and non-Royal Mail end-to-end accounted for by operators handling fewer than two million letters annually; visibility of total access volume from Royal Mail (and of revenue from Royal Mail and others); and the retention of the ability to require provision of information on an ad hoc basis.
In the light of these changes we will therefore require all operators who meet one or both of the criteria set out below to provide us with information on their letters business on an annual basis. These criteria are:
- the operator’s combined access mail (including agency and DSA) and end to end delivered Letters and Large Letters volumes exceeded 2 million items in the period April 2016 to March 2017; or
- the operator expects to have combined access mail (including agency and DSA) and end to end delivered Letters and Large Letters volumes exceeding 2 million items in the period April 2017-March 2018.
We will be writing to those operators we have collected data from in 2016-17 in due course to inform them of what action, if any, they may need to take.
If you believe that you meet at least one of the criteria above, but we have not collected data from you in the past financial year (2016-17), please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to inform us of this. We can then advise you as to what further action you may need to take.
If you require further information or have any questions, please contact Mark Pearson in Ofcom’s Market Intelligence team at email@example.com
Letter means an addressed postal item that is up to length 240mm, width 165mm, thickness 5mm, and weighs no more than 100g.
Large Letter means an addressed postal item that is larger than a Letter in any dimension or in weight, is up to length 353mm, width 250mm, thickness 25mm, and weighs no more than 750g.
Access mail means mail in relation to which Royal Mail has provided Access. Access means giving a person access to the universal service provider’s postal network at the IMC for the purposes of providing any domestic postal services for Letters, Large Letters or Parcels.
End-to-end delivered, in relation to any postal item, means you are responsible to the customer for the provision of the a postal service from collection to delivery (whether you provide the service by using your own network or by sub-contracting others), but excludes any services in relation to any postal item which is or is to be passed to Royal Mail either (a) at the IMC pursuant to an Access Contract or (b) by sending it using any single-piece service provided by Royal Mail, where single piece bears the same meaning it has in Paragraph 1 of Schedule 1 of The Postal Services (Universal Postal Service) Order 2012.
Agency refers to a type of access mail which is sent pursuant to the following arrangements: a person has an access agreement with Royal Mail in relation to which it is agreed that a postal operator other than Royal Mail will act as the person’s agent to hand mail over to Royal Mail at the IMC.
DSA refers to a type of access mail which is sent pursuant to the following arrangements: the sender of the mail concerned has an agreement with a postal operator other than Royal Mail for the provision of the end-to-end service and does not have any agreement with Royal Mail in relation to the postal items sent pursuant to the arrangements.
IMC means “Inward Mail Centre” which is the part of Royal Mail’s mail centre in which the activities related to the processes of final sorting for delivery (in that mail centre’s catchment area) of mail received from the upstream part of Royal Mail’s network, or from other postal operators, to the final addresses take place. The upstream part of Royal Mail’s network consists of the processes related to collection and distribution of mail.
We currently collect and publish annual data on addressed letters volumes and revenues concerning:
- Royal Mail end-to-end: Mail collected and carried solely by Royal Mail over its network
- Access mail: Where a postal operator other than Royal Mail collects mail from the customer, sorts it and then transports it to Royal Mail’s Inward Mail Centres, where it is handed over to Royal Mail for delivery.
- End-to-end competition: Where a postal operator other than Royal Mail undertakes the entire process of collecting, sorting and delivering mail to the intended recipients.
We are reducing the number of organisations from which we collect data relating to B and C above. At the moment, we collect access and end-to-end letters volumes and revenues data from approximately 35 postal operators using our formal information gathering powers. A significant proportion of these operators carry significantly fewer than two million items each year, and some are not active operators at any given point in time. Many of the smallest operators provide their service only in limited geographic areas.
From FY 2017-18 we therefore intend to collect volumes and revenues data on a regular basis only from those postal operators whose combined access and end-to-end letters volumes are expected to exceed two million or more items a year.
Impact on data of change: We do not envisage that our proposals will have a material impact on the quality of our data or on the ability to monitor the market for the following reasons.
- Our analysis of operator returns in FY 2015-16, showed that those with end-to-end and access volumes of less than two million letters in total or more accounted for less than 1% of reported access volumes and 7% of non-Royal Mail end-to-end volumes. End-to-end volumes accounted for under 1% of combined access and non-Royal Mail end-to-end volumes.
- Following the proposed change, we will continue to have overall visibility of total access mail volumes from Royal Mail, access revenue received by Royal Mail and revenue retained by almost all providers who use access products (as their volumes exceed two million items a year).
- As those operators with volumes below two million items are almost exclusively end-to-end operators, the exclusion of these operators from our data collection will mean we will no longer capture some non-Royal Mail end-to-end letters volumes and revenues. However, overall non-Royal Mail end-to-end letters accounted for 0.2% total letters volumes in 2015-16.
- We retain the ability to use our formal information gathering powers to make ad-hoc information requests in the event we require information from those postal operators who are not required to make periodic revenues and volumes returns.
- We will monitor the inclusion of organisations whose volumes fluctuate around the two million per annum threshold, where appropriate including them within our programmatic data collection.
As a result of the above, we intend not to treat annual letters volumes data on a financial year basis as an official statistic given the availability of Royal Mail end-to-end and total access mail data published by Royal Mail on a financial year basis, although we envisage publishing this data.
Reason for change
We review the regulatory burdens we impose on stakeholders in order to ensure that they remain justified and proportionate. In the light of market developments, we now consider that it is appropriate for us to remove the requirement for smaller operators with annual letters volumes below two million to report quarterly letters revenues and volumes to us. This will reduce the burden on the smallest operators, while having no material impact on our ability to monitor the market.
Timing of change: We would intend to make this change effective for data relating from financial year 2017-18 (April 2017 – March 2018) and calendar year 2017.
Contact detail and comments: Mark Pearson. Please submit comments to Mailmarketinfo@ofcom.org.uk by 6 March 2017.
For anything else, get in touch, stating your organisation.
Ofcom Market Intelligence
2a Southwark Bridge Road
London SE1 9HA