Why does Scotland pay more than the rest of the UK for parcel delivery charges?

The extra cost of parcel delivery charges in Scotland, relative to the rest of the UK, is now at £44.8 million a year – with the North and the North East bearing the brunt.

The costs continue skyrocketing, with the rip-off charges now £8.5 million higher than in 2017, according to the latest analysis by SPICe (Scottish Parliament Information Centre).

This new research not only shines a light on the disproportionate impact of these surcharges on consumers across many parts of Scotland, particularly in the Highlands and Islands, but also highlights the impact of the pandemic on consumers and the rise of online shopping due to restrictions.

For many years, these charges have created a postcode lottery, with people and businesses in rural Scotland left out of pocket by some couriers and retailers – only because of where they live.

We have a situation where the surcharges cost people millions of pounds in extra costs that others don’t have to pay, with no consistency over how they’re applied or calculated.

Some retailers offer free delivery or apply modest surcharges. Other retailers apply eye-watering surcharges for even small items.

In Moray, some delivery lorries even drive past homes that have to pay big surcharges to get to homes that benefit from free delivery.

Throughout the year, my constituents in Moray faced over £4.4 million in these unjustified charges – while in neighbouring Inverness and Nairn, the figure shot up to almost £8.5 million.

Put simply, it’s a farce that is ripping off customers.

That’s why I have launched a campaign to end these rip-off charges, and as the Scottish Parliament doesn’t have the adequate powers to end this farce, repeatedly called on the UK government to act.

However, successive Tory ministers have refused to review the legislation to end these surcharges – trapping thousands of Scottish consumers and businesses in rural areas in a ‘postcode penalty’.

It’s a penalty that is causing unnecessary and unjustified hardship for many, only exacerbated by the economic damage of a hard Tory Brexit, a decade of cruel welfare cuts, and the impact of Covid.

This scandal is growing with each year that passes, and online trading is only going to get bigger and bigger.

Consumers and businesses in Scotland urgently need UK ministers to stop sitting on their hands and act to end these rip-off charges.

While Tory ministers at Westminster sometimes pay lip service on this issue, we know that if this was a problem in their own backyards, tough action would undoubtedly have been introduced well before now.