Opening up the postal market to private sector competition has given consumers and small businesses no benefits, an independent review has found.

The government-commissioned report stated that competition in the market has been largely based on price and there has been less innovation in the open market than had been expected.

In 2006, the government introduced full liberalisation of postal services in a bid to encourage more competition, but only large firms have benefited, gaining more choice, lower prices and quality products, while smaller businesses have seen no “significant benefits”.

The report, by former media regulator Richard Hooper, said that a major shake-up is needed if Britain is to benefit from a strong, competitive and cost-effective postal service.

“There is now a substantial threat to Royal Mail’s financial stability and therefore, the universal service. The status quo is not tenable; it will not deliver our shared vision for the postal sector,” the report concluded.

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