One of the UK’s largest local authorities is abandoning first class mail and developing a new hybrid mail system after April’s 30% price hike at Royal Mail.
Manchester city council currently sends out more than 4.5m mailpieces each year to its half a million residents, spending GBP 1.6m on its mail handling each year.
April’s 30% price hike for Royal Mail first and second class letters, a 20% hike in large letters and 11% increase for business mail rates looks set to cost the council an extra GBP 200,000 a year – which is not in its mailing budget.
Yesterday, the council’s finance scrutiny committee approved plans to switch all mail to second class.
First class and other options like special or recorded delivery will only be used in “exceptional circumstances”.
Council officers said testing had suggested “there is generally no delivery date difference within Manchester in sending mail first or second class”.
Elsewhere, council procedures are being changed to aggregate mail in central points before posting, to make the most of volume discounts.
The council is investigating a possible GBP 200,000 hybrid mail system, including preparation of a business case, looking into the potential to send mail electronically for local printing and folding.
In the long-term, a “Digital by Default” mail strategy will see council communications increasingly moving online, including electronic bill paying systems, which could be linked to the hybrid mail system for those Manchester residents preferring hardcopy correspondence.
“Improvement and efficiency savings from the hybrid mail project are still being evaluated and estimated, however we are confident the strategies to drive print and mail improvements will neutralise the impact of any Royal Mail price increases,” said Sara Tomkins, council assistant chief executive for communications, advising the council committee.