How would an independent Scotland impact postage?
The year of the Scottish Independence Referendum has arrived. Although it is already a country in its own right, by the end of 2014, Scotland could have full devolution from the United Kingdom. This will mean many things for many industries, how might it affect postage specifically?
Money, money, money
The main difference one might expect from this change could be that prices rise. The cost of sending a letter or package from England, Wales or Northern Ireland to Scotland could increase, especially if any form of border control is introduced - something that the minister of Europe, David Lidington and Scottish academic, Professor Robert Wright, have both alluded to in the past. Even though the Scottish government has made differing claims, it has never outright confirmed that no border controls or passport checks would be required, should an independent Scotland come to fruition.
"Independence will give Scotland full responsibility for managing borders and migration in a way that best fits national interests," a government spokesperson told the press in October 2013. If border controls are in fact established, this could mean that everyday citizens might be subject to customs charges when sending and receiving packages of a certain type. This could even extend to excise duty and import VAT, something which UK citizens already have to pay when buying items from abroad (unless they are declared as a gift or the item is under a certain worth). However not all items sent from within the EU to another part of the EU are subject to this, so if Scotland becomes part of the EU in its own right, customs fees may not even be an issue.
Regardless, it is likely that prices on the whole could rise when it comes to sending packages in particular - although to what extent is not yet known. Given the First Minister's plans to renationalise Royal Mail, should his country achieve the 'yes' vote, price may not be the only thing that is affected.
Could care levels improve?
It's no secret that many of us receive bashed and bent packages through the post, with some postal workers seemingly taking little or no care at all over our mail. However if Alex Salmond succeeds in renationalising the service, in an independent Scotland, chances are this could change. It was widely reported that postmen and women were unhappy with the privatisation of the service. Postal workers' pensions were cut, workloads increased and even though they were gifted shares in the company, concerns over reduced salaries led to strikes.
Should things change back to how they used to be (thereby potentially making the workforce happier), parcels may be better taken care of and their contents protected as they should be. This is only a theory, though and in reality, confidence in the Royal Mail may have taken a nosedive that will take a while to bounce back from. As such, the other major change may be that more people choose to use a courier service to transport their parcels; knowing their packages will be dealt with in a caring, secure way.
If Scotland does achieve independence, one point is for sure - things are bound to change. We just aren't entirely certain how, yet...