Economy,  Royal Mail

Fire Sale

(Good pub quiz question: Postman Pat’s surname is Clifton.)

As a sign of my gradual shift towards curmudgeon when it comes to generous pay packets for public sector chiefs, my first thought on hearing that the Government is to sell at least a majority stake in the Royal Mail was how much the chief executive is paid. Even deducting the return of £120,000 for purchasing a new house, it would appear to be a salary of £480,00 plus almost one million of various benefits.

As with the public surprise in 2010 at plans to sell-off land administered by the Forestry Commission – and subsequent retreat by the Government – many would be forgiven for not having realized the significance of the Labour-inspired the Postal Services Act (2011) which now has burst onto the front pages.

There have been reassurances from Business Secretary, Vince Cable that functions such as the six day a week guaranteed service and next day delivery would remain, but this strikes as ultimately wishful thinking. Once control is relinquished by the Government, I imagine it would takedramatic intervention to counteract any new owners’ desire for immediate financial profit over provision of a public service.

(Similar assurances have been issued by senior Post Office management, which presumably are worth more than their lack of contrition in the wholly fubar nature of the Horizon computer system for sub-postmaster/mistresses which appears to have led to innumerable false accusations and miscarriages of justice.)

As I cogitated on in May 2012, under the current ethos of public service, ever increasing postage costs have often been imposed suddenly and with restrictions put in place on the public’s efforts to minimize them.

In the event of further increases, small businesses with a sizable part of their expenditure entrusted to send/receiving goods and communications will face yet more narrowing of their profit margins. This is even more important for those of us living in rural areas where even correspondence with local companies or Government agencies typically is done by post.

And, before the usual suspects appear BtL, even the staunchly classical liberal Daily Telegraph sees the way in which this is being implemented as a poison chalice for the Government.

And even that would be more appropriate than trying to crowbar in Israel or Muslims or anything in between.