Benefit claimants offered cheap stamps

Royal Mail came under fire yesterday after they made the announcement to offer more than five million benefit claimants the chance to buy stamps at discounted prices.

The company have delivered letters across the UK for a uniform price since 1840 when the Penny Black was introduced.

However chief executive Moya Greene said that Royal Mail plan to break the tradition and introduce cheaper stamps which will be available to ‘the most vulnerable members of society’ this Christmas.

These stamps will be sold at 2011 prices – first class stamps costing 46p and second class 36p – whereas from April everyone else will be hit by increased prices.

Angry MP’s have labelled the move as ‘means-testing’, after the revelation that chaos will be caused by creating two-tier stamp prices. Around five million people will be eligible for the discount.

Details about the scheme are limited, however Royal Mail did say that anyone who received Pension Credit, Incapacity Benefit or its replacement, Employment and Support Allowance will be able to get the discount.

The latest announcement follows a controversial move by Royal Mail, which will see a huge increase in the price of stamps.

Ofcom – the postal regulator – want to remove a cap that limits the amount Royal mail can charge for sending a letter or parcel.

Nadhim Zahawi, A Tory MP who sits on the innovation and skills committee argued against the plan to offer claimants cheaper stamps.

He said: “How are they going to do it? How are they going to police it? If you go into a Post Office wearing a scruffy coat, will you get cheaper stamps?

Do you just send out your granny, who gets Pension Credit, to buy all the stamps? Is there a cap of ten on how many stamps you can buy? This is means-testing of stamps”.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Miss Greene – who receives a bonus equal to the Primer Minister’s salary of £142,000 – insisted that the current stamp prices are ‘incredible value’.

Article by Charlotte Greenhalgh