Royal Mail next-door delivery scheme given the go-ahead

Royal Mail vans The neighbour delivery scheme will be extended to 29 million addresses

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A scheme that will see post left with a neighbour if no-one is at home has been given the green light by the regulator Ofcom following a trial.

Royal Mail will now extend the initiative to millions of homes around the country.

The postal group has said customers welcome the convenience of letters and parcels being left at a nearby address if they are not in.

But Ofcom has said it will keep an eye on whether the scheme works as planned.

Homeowners and neighbours will be included in the scheme unless they register to opt out.

Initially, they can do this by attaching an opt-out sticker near to their letterbox, but the regulator will ask the service to work on an alternative, electronic opt-out system.

Royal Mail said that in most cases it would be left to postal workers to decide which neighbour a letter or package should be left with.

The service will retain liability for all undeliverable items until they are received by the addressee.

The extension of the service follows a three-month trial during which 220,000 items were delivered to an alternative address and there were only two cases where a neighbour claimed not to have signed on behalf of a customer, Royal Mail said.

Robert Hammond, of watchdog Consumer Focus, said: "Not all customers will want their mail to be left with a neighbour, but as long as the scheme is well-publicised, carefully monitored to identify potential issues and it is clear that people can opt out, we fully support this scheme."

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