Many vulnerable groups in Scotland are being let down by the postal system, according to new research published today by Citizens Advice Scotland.
The report, Delivering for all, exposes barriers to accessing mail for certain people, denying them access to important information and services from banks, public services, lawyers, and medical services.
The groups affected include asylum seekers, homeless people, those living in remote and rural areas, domestic abuse survivors, and the Gypsy/Traveller community. Problems encountered by these groups include intercepted mail, delayed delivery, lack of collection points, and affordability. The unwillingness of government agencies and organisations to accept alternative addresses where people do not have a permanent postal address or have frequent changes of address is also of great concern.
Publishing the report today, CAS spokesperson Gillian Fyfe said:
“Regardless of any strides that have been made in digital communication post is still an essential service across all communities in Scotland. The research we are publishing today shows that the current system is not working for vulnerable groups.
"The barriers we have identified include the fact that people who don’t have a permanent address have to arrange for their mail to be delivered to alternative addresses. Many organisations refuse to send post which may be vital or time sensitive to those addresses, and this can increase the chances of post going missing. All of this can cause detriment for these consumers either financially, personally, or in their ability to access essential support services.
"The findings relating to domestic abuse survivors are particularly distressing, as survivors of domestic abuse can be at risk of perpetrators intercepting post. A more flexible system allowing access to alternative pick up or collection points would provide more secure access to post for this group.
"Restricted access to mail is a significant problem for all the groups considered in this research. These are people we should be making sure are supported and instead they are being left behind. So we are unveiling today a package of recommendations that we believe should be considered and implemented by the postal industry, regulators, and governments at all levels.”