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Ofcom has launched a consultation on allowing Royal Mail the commercial freedom to roll out its ‘delivery to neighbour’ scheme across the UK.

At present, Royal Mail is the only major UK postal company currently not permitted to deliver to a neighbour.

If Ofcom makes these changes to Royal Mail’s delivery obligations, the company could leave mail items with a neighbour in the event that consumers are not in to receive them.

This would avoid larger postal items, certain items requiring a signature and articles for the blind being returned to a Royal Mail office to await collection, or being redelivered to a local Post Office or to the addressee’s home on a later date.

Customers will, however, be able to opt out of the scheme by displaying a sticker in a prominent location at their address.

Royal Mail also proposes to retain liability for all undeliverable items until they are received by the original addressee.

The postal watchdog says the potential benefits to customers, along with the feedback from successful trials of the new service carried out by Royal Mail, are likely to see the initiative given the go-ahead, subject to the consultation.

Royal Mail has been running trials of the proposed scheme since the end of last year, with 92% of customers whose items were left with a neighbour, satisfied with the experience and 90% of neighbours who accepted parcels also satisfied.

The consultation closes on 24 August.