UK councils taking to hybrid mail to save costs

The UK’s local authority sector is becoming a prime market for the provision of alternative and hybrid mail services following recent rate increases. Mendip district council in the county of Somerset has become one of the latest to award a hybrid mail contract seeking to reduce its postage spend with a system in which mail is sent electronically, before being printed and mailed locally to recipients.

The authority handed a five-year deal to the UK’s largest business process outsourcing company, Capita, to implement its hybrid mail and desktop service, [email protected]

A relatively small council, it has seen its postage costs increasing “significantly” over the past two years, and predicts a GBP 10,000 increase in its postage this year. It also wants a better system for staff to mail items while working remotely.

The deal with Capita is expected to cost around GBP 2,000 a year to implement according to council papers, plus GBP 2,400 a year in maintenance, and along with controlling First Class mail use, the project is expected to save the authority GBP 24,000 a year in postage costs.

Councillor Graham Noel, the council’s spokesman for access to services, said: “It’s important that we keep in touch with customers and inform them of the many different services available to them, and this system offers a more efficient and practical way of achieving this.”

London-based Capita said its [email protected] system is compatible with most office document software. It works on users’ desktops and instead of printing off their documents, it allows them to log into the central [email protected] system, select the relevant letterhead and insert required, then click “send” to mail it to recipients.

The system also offers a solution for automatically-generated correspondence.

David Lockie, divisional managing director at Capita Communications, said: “We are all too aware that organisations are trying to find new and innovative ways to secure cost savings, efficiency gains and service delivery improvements.

[email protected] will go quite some way to help Mendip District Council realise this, purely by adapting one key day-to-day process, one which will have far-reaching effects across the authority.”

Authorities

Other local authorities in the UK are also looking at their postage budgets at present, with some taking action to move to Second Class services, or introduce new systems including hybrid mail.

Manchester city council approved a plan last month to push for cheaper postal services, revealing that Royal Mail’s price hikes from April were set to cost it GBP 200,000 extra a year in postage.

Elsewhere, Derbyshire county council issued a GBP 10m tender for a five-year hybrid mail contract earlier this summer, with a deadline for submissions set for 26th June.

The London borough of Wandsworth handed a contract to UK Mail this spring that included moves to minimise use of First Class delivery and implement a new hybrid mail solution for outgoing council mail.

Council officers believe hybrid mail could save the authority between GBP 85,000 and GBP 115,000 a year in mail costs. Along with reducing First Class and other mail use, the authority is looking for a GBP 300,000 cut in its GBP 1.1m postage budget each year.

TNT Post UK won a broader public service deal back in February to provide hybrid mail for national and local authorities in Scotland, along with other public sector agencies.

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