Record-breaking stamp price hikes confirmed for April
This is a 15p increase in the price of a 1st class stamp (currently 95p) and a 7p increase for 2nd class stamps (currently 68p). A year earlier, prices were hiked by 10p and 2p respectively.
If you know you will need a number of stamps in the year ahead, you should be able to stock up on barcoded stamps from retailers now at the current price levels. These barcoded stamps were introduced in February 2022. But for anyone with older non-barcoded stamps, you’ll need to use them or swap them out by 31 July 2023.
The Royal Mail said the price changes “have been subject to careful consideration” in light of the 25% drop in letters being sent since the pandemic, increasing costs and the highest rate of inflation for a generation.
However, charity Citizens Advice said these record-breaking prices “couldn’t come at a worse time” as people will pay 64% more for a 1st class stamp and 29% more for a 2nd class stamp compared to five years ago.
Matthew Upton, director of policy at Citizens Advice, said: “Almost one in five people are already struggling with current prices for 2nd class stamps.
“Royal Mail is choosing to hike prices at a time when millions are missing important letters, thanks to post delays. Nobody should be paying more for this kind of subpar service.”
Millions miss important mail
Earlier this year, the charity, which is the statutory advocate for postal consumers in England and Wales, revealed an estimated 31 million people (60% of UK adults) were hit with letter delays this Christmas.
For more than six million people, they missed important mail, with an estimated 3.2 million missing legal or insurance documents, while 2.1 million said they missed a health appointment.
The charity said this was now the third festive period in a row where Brits have faced problems with mail delivery.
Upton added: “Ofcom [industry regulator] should be holding Royal Mail to account, but it’s letting the company get away with rocketing prices and over two years of missed delivery targets. Enough is enough, it’s time for the regulator to act.”
‘Committed to keeping our prices affordable’
Royal Mail said 1st class stamp prices remain competitive compared to other major European postal operators, citing that the average equivalent price in Europe is £1.25p.
It said it remains committed to the Universal Service (one-price-goes-anywhere) for approximately 31 million addresses across the UK.
However, it said the costs of delivering the Universal Service are increasing. At the same time, letter volumes have decreased from more than 20 billion letters a year in 2004/05, to approximately eight billion letters per year now, while the number of addresses has risen by four million in the same period.
Royal Mail is currently expected to report an adjusted operating loss of £350m to £450m for the full year.
Given its “loss-making position”, it has asked the Government to amend the Universal Service Obligation from six days a week to five for letters as Ofcom research showed that a five-day letter service would meet the needs of 97% of consumers and SMEs.
Nick Landon, chief commercial officer at Royal Mail, said: “We appreciate that many businesses and households are facing a challenging economic environment and we are committed to keeping our prices affordable.
“Letters have declined by 25% compared to pre-pandemic. We have to carefully balance our pricing against a continued decline in letter volumes and the increasing costs of delivering letters six days a week to an ever-growing number of addresses across the country.
“We are seeing a fundamental change in consumer needs with a greater shift in demand from letters to parcels. It is vital that the Universal Service adapts and stays both relevant and sustainable. We need to make these price changes to ensure we can continue to maintain and invest in the one-price-goes-anywhere Universal Service for years to come.”