The Jersey Competition Regulatory Authority has launched a consultation on proposals to review the Licence for Jersey’s postal service.
The Authority has published a non-statutory Draft Decision (the Draft Decision) as part of its review of postal services in the Island, which began with a Call for Information last autumn and has included extensive independent consumer research.
Although there are two licensees in Jersey – Jersey Post and Hi-Speed Freight Services Ltd – the focus of the Draft Decision is on policy proposals for Jersey Post, split into three broad areas:
- Updates to the regulatory framework to help ensure effective supervision on an ongoing basis. This covers proposals where action will be required from Government, alongside steps that can be taken by the Authority.
- Policy measures to support the universal service obligation (USO), which is under pressure from changing consumer demands and other external factors. While no changes are currently proposed to the USO, the approach to any future changes is set out and these would require a separate consultation process with wider stakeholders to be held.
- Updating the quality-of-service expectations of Jersey Post to reflect changing market and consumer dynamics. This covers the new quality of service regime, which is a key mechanism for the Authority to assess Jersey Post’s performance.
The nature of postal service delivery has changed dramatically in recent years. There are approximately 40,000 postal addresses in Jersey. Traditional postal service users sending or receiving letters, or businesses sending transactional mail have, and are continuing to, decline, with most respondents to the consumer research sending under three letters a month. There is, however, a growth side to the sector which is seeing an increasing number of parcels and packets coming to the Island because of increased use of online shopping, with nearly 50% of respondents receiving one or two parcels every week.
Peter Hetherington (pictured), Chief Economist at the Authority said: “Postal services play a key role in society and almost everyone in Jersey interacts with postal services on a regular basis. The ability to send and receive letters and parcels is a key form of communication and an essential element of the Island’s economy. We are very aware that the postal landscape has changed since we last reviewed the market and we want to make sure the regulatory framework remains appropriate.”
The Authority last reviewed the regulatory framework for post in 2012. Since that review there has been ongoing monitoring of Jersey Post’s quality of service performance, with results issued on an annual basis. Where necessary, interventions have been made when the expected level of service has not been met, but research shows that consumers are satisfied with the service they receive.
The independent consumer survey highlighted the important role of postal services for consumers and one of the key recommendations in the Draft Decision is the establishment of a User Council, to help put consumers at the heart of the way it runs its business. The aim will be to provide independent challenge to Jersey Post and independent assurance to the Authority on the quality of Jersey Post’s consumer engagement.
Peter Hetherington added: “Given the increasing scope of future challenges in the postal sector and the likelihood of future changes, the importance of good quality customer engagement will only increase. This means it is important that there is a more formalised approach to consumer engagement through which Jersey Post carry out direct local engagement with their customers to understand their priorities, needs and requirements, which should then drive decision making.”
The Authority worked with Copenhagen Economics, a specialist consulting company in applied economics in the postal sector, and Jersey-based consumer research experts 4Insight to draw both qualitative and quantitative insights on the current level of service provided by Jersey Post, and the expectations and demands of consumers and businesses. In their call for information response, Jersey Post has welcomed the role of regulation to protect consumer and business needs.
The Authority is inviting written views and comments on the issues and questions raised in the Draft Decision, to be made by 5pm on 8 September 2023.