Size certainly seems to matter, but at what cost?

PIP - the new proportional pricing regime that the Post Office will be introducing on August 21 - is supposed to be another of these 'fiscally neutral' costs so much loved by this Government.

It's based on size and volume rather than purely relying on weight.

Yet it seems to me that the plan is fundamentally flawed.

The Post Office has failed to invest in automated machinery that deals with the standard business size of an A4 item. Therefore the new system is likely to add substantially to the costs of small businesses rather than being 'fiscally neutral' to those who rely on the A4 size for letters, general correspondence, brochures and price lists.

Imposed without genuine consultation with the vast majority of its business users - especially those small businesses who rely on A4 postings - the Post Office seems hell bent on making sure that it loses one of its most loyal and important sectors to other providers now that its monopoly is being slowly taken apart piece by piece.

It seems astonishing that such a vital sector has been ignored, as well as the need to spend some ten million pounds to get its message across to the general public at large.

Clearly the Post Office needs to make a profit like any business, yet it seems strange that it prefers to lose not only major volume users to its competitors, but also the small business sector as well, which I would have thought would be vital to its medium term future. Sending items through the Post remains something which people actually prefer to receive - they can refer to it as a 'hard copy' rather than trawling through many emails or other electronic formats to find what they want quickly and simply when they need to retrieve simple information.

'Hard copy' in the form of brochures and price lists remains a mainstay of the small business sector despite online shops and all the other paraphernalia that goes with today's modern electronic office.

Clearly we remain to be convinced whether this will in fact be truly 'fiscally neutral', or whether we shall in fact end up as just another one of those 'milch cows' so much loved by Governments, and large public companies, who they give scant notice of when it comes to adding to our costs and those of our customers.