28 Sep 2020, 11:08
28 Sep 2020, 13:21
Britain’s largest independent advice provider is calling on the Government to invest in helping some seven million people in this country who have been unable to receive their own post over recent years.
According to a newly-published piece of Citizens Advice research – Millions Without Mail by Laura Clark, Kiran Brar and Gemma Byrne – out of those seven million, 4.7m have missed health and other appointments and 1.8m have missed out on employment opportunities due to missed mail.
Annabel Barnett, senior policy director at Citizens Advice, tells CWU News that her research team found a variety of reasons why people are unable to receive their deliveries.
“This can happen if they don’t have an address or are moving around frequently for example – or if someone’s intercepting their post,” she explains.
Among the groups within society most likely to be experiencing this loss of service are homeless people, survivors of domestic abuse and people living in precarious dwellings, the report indicates.
“And it’s clear that missing letters causes people significant harm,” Ms Barnett continues, citing potential loss of benefits, housing and other financial losses that people who are unable to collect their mail have suffered, as well as missing health appointments and job interviews.
To remedy this – and ensure these people in often vulnerable situations can access this vital service – Citizens Advice is proposing an ‘Address & Collect’ initiative, similar to the ‘PO Box’ system.
Ms Barnett suggests that this could be provided at local post offices, to which people in such circumstances could be directed.
“And their post would be kept safe for them to collect at a time that’s convenient for them,” she explains.
“Access to post has always been essential and this will be more so in the coming period, as people strive to recover from the shock of the coronavirus pandemic. So we’re calling on the government to use the upcoming spending review to secure funding for such a service.”
CWU assistant secretary Andy Furey has warmly welcomed the proposed initiative, describing it as “a first-class idea.”
The union has long been campaigning for expansion to the range of services provided by the Post Office and has regularly cited the importance to all UK people of the essential service it provides.
“Annabel and Citizens Advice are absolutely spot on with this suggestion,” Andy continues, “and we at the CWU fully support the idea of a post office-based address and collect service.
“This would ensure that everybody has equal access to our nation’s postal service – fulfilling our social responsibility obligations to communities.
“But it’s also the type of idea that could be attractive to local business start-ups too, and could help to regenerate local economies as well as being a potential source of new revenue streams for the Post Office and Royal Mail.”
If you’d like to show your support for this proposal, please tweet with the hashtag #MillionsWithoutMail