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  1. Wealth
March 27, 2012

Stamp Price Rises Will Only Hasten Royal Mail's Demise

By Spear's

The Royal Mail will now be allowed to put up prices to whatever exorbitant level it thinks its residually sufficient service warrants.

The last time I wrote about why I wanted the Royal Mail to be shut down – inefficient, expensive, not environmentally friendly, larcenous employees, superseded by the internet – I received a fair amount of abuse in the comments. I’m fine with that – I never thought my point of view would be popular.

It does look like a sign in favour of my argument that the Royal Mail will now be allowed to put up prices to whatever exorbitant level it thinks its residually sufficient service warrants. With first class prices going up from 46p to 60p, an inflation-busting increase of a third, because of falling traffic (59 million a day from 84 million in 2006) and huge losses (£1 billion in four years), it is clear that their business model is failing. Extorting an extra 14p out of pensioners and those sending invitations will not suffice.

The government does not see a future for the Royal Mail: it wants to privatise it. Insofar as it does consider it, it assumed its pensions assets and liabilities in last week’s Budget, not trusting it to run itself.

The argument is always made that old people can’t use computers. I reckon it would be cheaper to give every old person who does not already own a computer a basic PC or laptop, hook them up to the internet and teach them how to use it than to support the Royal Mail. Martha Lane Fox, the government’s digital champion, is working towards ensuring as many people are online as possible. (She recently visited a nursing home getting all its residents online.)

The sooner we face up to the 21st century and abandon our 19th century postal system, which is grossly labour over-intensive and infinitely more expensive than sending an email, the better.

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