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Smarter mail

Our choice of communication methods can have a significant impact on the financial and carbon targets of the council. The efficient use of mail and print services therefore remains a priority. The council has introduced a centralised mail service, which has reduced mail costs and energy consumption, and will allow greater control of mail costs in the future.

More is not always better!

Mail image 1
Mail image 1

How much do we send out?

  • The council sent out 335,000 pieces of council mail in 2015/16. In 2016/17 we reduced that amount to 287,674, In 2017/18 we reduced this amount to 251,294
  • The postage costs for the Council have reduced significantly and the figure for 2017/18 was £105,022.00
  • Housing, Customer and Building Services, Education Services and Social Policy send out the most amount of mail.

What's changing?

  • From 2016, all service areas will be re-charged for all excess postage costs. This means that any overspend on mail will come out of your service budget. It is therefore vitally important that staff familiarise themselves with the information and guidance below.
  • It is easy to reduce the amount of mail we issue and also reduce the cost of the mail we send.
  • All service managers are aware of your team's role in reducing mail - so please ask them if you want to know more.

Did you know?

Each service has set targets for reducing the amount of mail that is issued and each service is responsible for monitoring and reviewing their procedures and work practices to ensure they comply with the mail and print policy. Failure to adhere to the mail specifications will result in increased postage costs, which will be recharged to the service that issued the mail.
Service Area 2016/17 Total 2016/17 Target
CEO 384 £163 670 £216
Corporate Services 32,060 £15,075 38,032 £12,284
Education 100,301 £34,953 77,617 £25,070
Finance & Estates 9,342 £4,093 9,639 £3,026
Housing Construction Building Services 47,976 £26,654 50,634 £16,355
Operational Services 19,728 £7,852 14,784 £4,775
Planning & Ed 18,843 £7,453 27,467 £8,872
Social Policy 50,040 £24,949 41,176 £13,300
Totals 287,674 £121,193 260,019 £83,898

If everyone follows these simple steps, all services will be able to reduce the amount of mail they send out

mail image 2
mail image 2

Plan ahead

Prepare material in advance. This allows the most efficient and effective means of production and distribution to be determined. Failure to plan ahead = increased costs. 


  • Understand your target audience and use the most appropriate channels for your customers. If one customer group requires printed material, do not assume that they all require printed material. 

Distribution - Scan it, Send it - simple and effective 

  • The easiest way to reduce mail is to use email. Scan it, Send it - especially if you are sending documents to other councils, public organisations or housing associations. All MFD (printers) have a scanning function. If you do not know how to scan documents, call the Civic Centre Admin Team which will be happy to show you. 
  • Alternatively, consider if your document or PDF on a page is available online and simply send the link

Before you issue a large number of items by mail, you should contact the Civic Centre Admin Team for advice. 
All mail is sent out second class, unless there is a business critical requirement to send mail out either first class or by recorded delivery (this is determined by the service).

Mailing costs are increasing in 2018 so here are some top tips to follow to reduce your costs

mail image 3
mail image 3

All external mail that meets the standard mail format will achieve the most competitive and efficient postage rates. 

Your service will achieve its goals by following these five steps:

  1. Always use white C5 (maximum content of twelve pages of 80gsm A4 paper) or white C4 sized window envelopes - if you are not sure what these look like, call the Admin Team
  2. Only have four lines in the envelope window (see below for details)
  3. If you can, avoid writing on envelopes in pen or pencil - it causes problems with the franking machine which is used to distribute mail. Use a white C5 envelope which has a window for the address
  4. If labels are stuck on the envelope they must be placed in the same space as where an envelope window would be placed - see below example
  5. Where possible, don't use padded envelopes or post documents with paper clips and/or staples as it can interfere with the machines which are used to sort mail

The envelope window

Mail image 4
Mail image 4

Always make sure that the full address is visible, including postcode, and adhere to the following tips below: 

  • You should only use four lines in the address - Recipient name, street name, town or village and the postcode will suffice. See example to the right
  • The vast majority of letters the council issue are sent to addresses in West Lothian. If that is the case, you don't need to include 'West Lothian' in the address, as the postcode will suffice
  • The postcode should always be included on a separate line. If a postcode is not included it will not be sent and returned to the service.
  • If you must send a letter out-with West Lothian, you can use a fifth line in the address panel - however never exceed five lines. If you do, the post code doesn't appear in the envelope window which means the letter gets returned to the council and your service will be charged twice 
  • Once your letter is in the envelope, tap it on the desk - you shouldn't be able to tap the address out of view
  • There should be no other writing visible, i.e. Heading or letterhead
  • It's important to use the correct font size - which should be lower case Arial 12

Always include a Postcode

Any letters sent to the Admin Team without a postcode will be returned back to the service. If you don't have a postcode, visit