Section 29: Duty to secure provision of universal postal service
142.Subsection (1) of this section provides that the primary duty of OFCOM in relation to postal services is to secure the provision of a universal postal service. This section should be read in conjunction with paragraph 57 of Schedule 12 to the Act, which amends the Communications Act 2003 to provide that, in pursuing their duties in relation to postal services, OFCOM must give priority to the duty under this section to secure the provision of a universal postal service.
143.Subsection (2) makes it clear that OFCOM’s duty to impose access conditions, and other regulatory conditions, is subject to their duty under subsection (1) to secure the provision of a universal postal service.
144.Subsection (3) sets out that OFCOM must have regard to both the need for the provision of a universal postal service to be financially sustainable and to the need for the provision of a universal postal service to be efficient before the end of a reasonable period of time when performing their duty under subsection (1).
145.Subsection (4) provides that, when having regard to the need for the universal service to be financially sustainable under subsection (3)(a), OFCOM must include the need for a reasonable commercial rate of return for a universal service provider on any expenditure incurred for the purpose of, or in connection with, providing the universal postal service.
146.Subsection (5) defines "reasonable period" in subsection (3)(b) as a period beginning on the day that the provisions in this Part of the Act come into force and which OFCOM consider, in all the circumstances, to be reasonable.
147.Subsection (6) requires OFCOM to carry out their functions in relation to postal services in a way that they consider will secure the provision of sufficient access points to meet the reasonable needs of users of the universal postal service.
148.Subsection (7) enables the Secretary of State to direct OFCOM to take, or refrain from taking, action to ensure that sufficient access points are provided throughout the United Kingdom to meet the interests of the public. "Interests of the public" in this subsection may be distinct from "user needs" in subsection (6). Subsection (10) requires the Secretary of State to consult OFCOM before making such a direction.
149.Subsection (11) defines the meaning of "access points" in this Part of the Act.