RISHI SUNAK’S spokesperson today said that the Royal Mail should have to maintain its Saturday deliveries.

The Royal Mail is angling to have its “universal service obligation” (USO) altered so that it is no longer obliged to deliver to every address in the UK every day, with Saturday being the day it wants to drop.

Many people would dispute whether the Mail is fulfilling its obligation at the moment – it is funny how you get nothing through the letterbox for several days and then a big glut arrives all at once. Last year, the Mail paid out £26m in compensation to disgruntled customers, and it was hit by a record £5.6m in November for its failure to deliver on time.

No one would dispute that the price of a simple letter is hugely expensive: £1.25 first class, which is why Christmas cards were removed from many people’s Christmas to-do lists.

But no one can also doubt that the USO is from another era. It is from the days before emails and text messages – the Mail used to deliver 20bn letters a year, but now it delivers 7bn. The USO is from a time before the Mail faced competition from a plethora of private companies which are able to set their own delivery terms.

In six months last year, the Royal Mail lost £319m, partly because of long running strikes, and there may be an argument that says no reform should be introduced until we have had a period of harmonious stability so we can see how the company is really running.

Equally, though, we cannot view the Mail as we did in the pre-digital age. At some point, there will have to be change – interestingly, Germany and France have recently allowed their state-wide postal companies to deliver 95 per cent of letters within three days.