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Stamp prices set to rise

The cost of a first class stamp is due to rise from 46p to 60p, while second class stamps are going up from 36p to 50p.

The move follows a decision by the communications watchdog, Ofcom, to remove some of the price restrictions placed on Royal Mail.

Due to take effect from 30 April, the price changes represent the biggest annual increase in percentage terms for 37 years.

Meanwhile, the cost of posting large letters will also increase from 75p to 90p for first-class and from 58p to 69p for second-class.

With the volume of mail and parcels haven fallen substantially over recent years, Royal Mail said it had ‘no option’ but to raise prices.

‘We know how hard it is for households and businesses when our economy is as tough as it is now,’ said the Royal Mail's chief executive, Moya Greene.

‘No one likes to raise prices in the current economic climate but, regretfully, we have no option.’

However, the move has attracted criticism from businesses and consumer groups.

Robert Hammond from Consumer Focus said: ‘This is not great news for consumers. I doubt anyone is going to think about the challenges facing Royal Mail when they are paying 60p for a first-class stamp.

‘Unfortunately, the economics of Royal Mail meant that something had to give to maintain the Universal Service Obligation’.