Royal Mail has submitted proposals on an employee share ownership scheme and these proposals are currently under consideration by the Department. Ministers and officials meet Royal Mail representatives on a regular basis and have discussed these proposals with them. No decisions have been made on whether to introduce a share scheme.
The Government have given the Royal Mail group greater commercial freedom and have established an arm’s length relationship so that the board can operate the business as it decides best to meet the challenges of market development and changing customer needs.
The Department has held discussions with Royal Mail about its plans to modernise the business through the introduction of new technology and equipment. It is for the Royal Mail management to decide on the appropriate size of the Royal Mail work force as a result of this modernisation.
Government support has been provided by permitting Royal Mail and POL to utilise accumulated profits held in reserves on the Royal Mail balance sheet and direct funding from Government. These amount to £2 billion since 1998. The direct funding related to the urban reinvention programme and Your Guide were provided as follows:
Urban Reinvention Your Guide 2001-02 — — 2002-03 10,896 25,000 2003-04 72,359 — 2004-05 72,812 — 2005-06 17,869 —
In 2003, loan facilities amounting to £1,044,000 were put in place but Royal Mail has not drawn down on these.