A Post Bank in twenty one words?

Twenty one good words in the speech that the Prime Minister has given today at the Labour Party Conference.

 “I want the Post Office – to play a much bigger role, bringing banking services back to the heart of people’s communities.”

Our research shows there is an appetite among consumers and there are good ways (with careful logistics and some hard money) to make this happen, including links at local level with credit unions.  The post office branch network, at 11,500 outlets strong, is greater than the combined total of 10,489 bank branches. There is an opportunity for rural communities here too. 

Only four per cent of rural areas have a bank, but 60 per cent still have a post office, meaning the post office already plays a surrogate banking role in many rural communities. The Commission for Rural Communities, for example, has found that less than 10% of all cash points are sited in rural areas, with only 46% of these being free to use (compared to just under two thirds in urban areas).

New Zealand’s post office launched Kiwibank in 2002 with the offer of lower fees, better services and longer trading hours and has since become one of that country’s most popular banks.

It is not a new idea. In 1861 the British government introduced the Post Office Savings Bank, which later became National Savings & Investments, followed almost a 100 years in 1968 later by Girobank. But it would be great if these words today mark the coming of age for the idea of  contemporary neighbourhood banking through the Post Bank.

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6 thoughts on “A Post Bank in twenty one words?

  1. Too little, too late.

    My village’s post office closed last year, at the same time as the two nearest (by travel time) post offices in the neighbouring town. I think the post office I nominated as my replacement for banking services has just closed too – I am not looking forward to the next time I need to pay in cash or a cheque.

    The only post offices here that seem safe are the shopping centre ones which can’t really be used by any working people because their queue times are amazingly high. Forget trying to get in and out in your lunch break, even if you work close enough to try and I wonder what the Christmas posting rush is going to be like!

    Also, I suspect the “60 per cent still have a post office” is an overestimate based on bad gov.uk data: is Kewstoke, Somerset classed as having access to a post office on that list? When it ran the CONsultation after deciding to close the village post office, the Post Office claimed we’re something like 1.5 miles from our next nearest, handily ignoring the footpathless 25%-gradient road and the steeper, unlit, rough-stepped footpath between us and it. Unlike the one in https://edmayo.wordpress.com/2008/09/12/postwatch-walks-on-water/, it seems they are allowed to expect elderly villagers to risk breaking their necks to access the Post Office. Or to have access to a car. Which is rather contrary to other things the government should be working on, like congestion and CO2.

  2. With a budget of £4.4million for postal issues according to your most recent annual report, what concrete achievements have you achieved for consumers in the postal sector? Surely you are a “rent-a-quote”, always ready with a cheap quip or gibe at another government department, a publicity-seeker with no concrete achievements to speak of?

    • Helen, thanks but perhaps you should come clean that you are “a concerned member” of the postal union CWU. Perhaps the reason you don’t like what I have said on PostBank, which would be a concrete achievement, is that Consumer Focus has been a rent-a-quote criticising the postal strike for letting down consumers?

      Ironically, I am just back from talking on a CWU platform at the Labour Party conference on digital rights. Serious planning on how to win the case for wider access to broadband – and the scope for joint work if we can see our common interests as well as the differences.

      • One key thing needed to widen access to broadband is to strengthen the rights of purchasing groups in the wholesale market to forbid the STUPID merry-go-round of repeated “plug your router into the master socket for weeks on end until we get around to testing your line” and “unplug all your phones and then call us so we can run a line test” demands from service providers. I suspect that a lot of people who nominally have broadband have given up trying to get it working reliably!

        Anyway, I’m interested to read more about digital rights, particularly if you took a pro-cooperation anti-protectionism stance…

      • And on that topic, here’s today’s BBC news that “UK broadband ‘not fit’ for future” http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/low/technology/8282839.stm

        I suggest it’s not even fit for the present yet – we’re 22nd out of 65 countries tested?

        Cisco’s communication manager is wide of the mark: most of the UK is outside the cable networks with no significant expansion planned and Digital Britain’s most significant effect so far is to punish early adopters with a broadband tax.

        We must open the broadband market more and place it under greater user control!

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