Households and businesses across the north and north-east are bearing the brunt of parcel delivery surcharges at a cost of more than £38 million a year.
New research by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (Spice) has revealed the additional cost to Scottish adults in areas commonly impacted by parcel delivery surcharges relative to the rest of Scotland is £44.8m.
The north and north-east of the country is most impacted by the charges at a combined cost of £38.6m with those living in the Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch constituency having to pay the most in Scotland at an average of £9.1m a year.
Moray MSP Richard Lochhead has called on the UK Government to “stop sitting on its hands” and take action to end the “growing scandal”.
Residents in Inverness and Nairn face the second highest charges in Scotland at an average annual cost of £8.4m, followed by Caithness, Sutherland and Ross.
Areas of the north-east, including Banffshire and Buchan Coast, Aberdeenshire West and Aberdeenshire West, also feature in the list of mainly rural areas commonly impacted by the charges.
Constituents in Mr Lochhead’s Moray constituency have been forced to fork out an average of £4.4m extra a year, according to the figures.
The SNP politician claimed a “postcode penalty” is being paid by thousands of households and businesses in the north of the country who must pay the “eyewatering surcharges” applied by some couriers and retailers.
He said the research, which he comissioned from Spice, also highlights the “impact of the pandemic on consumers and the rise of online shopping due to restrictions”.
He added: “Scottish consumers in rural areas should not have to live with these often-absurd surcharges and the fact is, due to UK Government inaction this postcode penalty is being paid by thousands of households and business in Scotland.
“In Moray, some delivery lorries even drive past homes that have to pay big surcharges to get to homes that benefit from free delivery. It’s a farce that is ripping off customers.
“This scandal is growing with each year that passes and online trading is just going to get bigger and bigger – consumers and businesses in Scotland need UK Ministers to stop sitting on their hands.”
‘Assessing what more can be done’
A UK Government spokeswoman said: “The Royal Mail provides a universal parcel service at a standard price throughout the United Kingdom thanks to legislation the UK government put in place in 2011.
“All businesses must show clear and upfront delivery charges so customers can shop elsewhere if charges are excessive.
“We are working closely with consumer groups to assess what more can be done to protect remote communities.”