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Access to Post

Millions without mail

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Published: September 2020

Citizens Advice commissioned NatCen to conduct research into post insecurity in the UK: what is the extent of post insecurity in the UK, who is most affected, and what are the impacts?

Post insecurity arises when individuals are unable to consistently receive their post. This happens because they lack a fixed address or change their address frequently, or because their post is intercepted by others. Citizens Advice commissioned NatCen to conduct research into post insecurity in the UK: what is the extent of post insecurity in the UK, who is most affected, and what are the impacts?

To answer these questions, NatCen conducted a web survey of 15,000 UK adults using the Dynata Panel. The large sample size was necessary to achieve sufficient numbers in groups of particular interest, such as people who have slept rough. The Dynata Panel uses a non-probability sample, so population estimates should be treated with caution. Nonetheless, the findings were striking:

  • The UK public rely on post, with 94% of people saying that being able to receive post was important to them. In particular, post is crucial for managing our finances and for receiving important information from GPs, hospitals and other health services.
  • One in seven respondents had experienced post insecurity in the last 10 years.
  • The effects of post insecurity can be serious. Missed appointments are common, with over half of those who experienced post insecurity reporting that they missed health appointments as a result, and one in four reporting that they missed a job interview or job centre appointment.
  • Post insecurity is much more common amongst young people, who generally have less secure housing: 26% of those aged 18-39 reported experiencing post insecurity in the last 10 years, compared to just 3% of over 60s.
  • Post insecurity is particularly prevalent amongst homeless people, including rough sleepers, sofa surfers, people living in temporary or emergency accommodation and people living in overcrowded accommodation. It is also common amongst those in non-standard dwellings, such as people who live in boats or on Gypsie or Traveller sites.
  • People who live with an abusive partner or family member are particularly likely to report having their post intercepted.

Post Insecurity Infographic Full Size

Download the infographic in full size

Download the report from Citizens Advice