Five questions answered on the Post Office’s new current account service

When does it start?

It has been revealed that the Post Office plans to offer current accounts in the UK. We answer five questions on this new service.

Why has the Post Office decided to start offering current accounts to its customers?

Earlier in the year it was highlighted by a regulator that the market is dominated by few providers – most notably, by Lloyds, RBS, Barclays and HSBC, which make up 75 per cent of the market – resulting in a lack of choice for customers.

The Post Office has decided to enter the market to offer ‘simplicity, transparency and good value for money’, according to its director of financial services, Nick Kennett.

Doesn’t the post office already offer some financial services?

Yes, currently, at its 11,500 branches, the Post Office already offers savings accounts, mortgages and insurance policies in collaboration with the Irish Bank.

What details have the Post Office released about its new current account?

Very little at the moment. However, we do know that the service will be launched with the Irish bank and that is will be rolled out in some stores over the next few weeks, with more offering the service next year.

Kennett did tell the BBC: "We have carried out extensive research into the current account market and the findings tell us that customers want simplicity, transparency and good value for money.”

What are the experts saying?

Experts are very positive about the new current account. Rachel Springall, spokeswoman for financial information service Moneyfacts, speaking to the BBC said: "The Post Office has a good High Street presence, perfect for people who prefer the more personal branch banking. It will be interesting to see whether this account will be as transparent and simple in structure as they suggest.”

While, Kevin Mountford, head of banking at comparison website Moneysupermarket, added: “I expect this account will be very popular."

What other new entrants into the banking sector have there been in the last few years?

Metro Bank launched in 2010 and M&S Bank in 2012 , while Tesco Bank has announced it will launch an account soon. However, according to the Office of Fair Trading, none of these banks are yet in a position to challenge the big four.

Photograph: Getty Images

Heidi Vella is a features writer for Nridigital.com

Photo: Getty
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Who will win in Manchester Gorton?

Will Labour lose in Manchester Gorton?

The death of Gerald Kaufman will trigger a by-election in his Manchester Gorton seat, which has been Labour-held since 1935.

Coming so soon after the disappointing results in Copeland – where the seat was lost to the Tories – and Stoke – where the party lost vote share – some overly excitable commentators are talking up the possibility of an upset in the Manchester seat.

But Gorton is very different to Stoke-on-Trent and to Copeland. The Labour lead is 56 points, compared to 16.5 points in Stoke-on-Trent and 6.5 points in Copeland. (As I’ve written before and will doubtless write again, it’s much more instructive to talk about vote share rather than vote numbers in British elections. Most of the country tends to vote in the same way even if they vote at different volumes.)

That 47 per cent of the seat's residents come from a non-white background and that the Labour party holds every council seat in the constituency only adds to the party's strong position here. 

But that doesn’t mean that there is no interest to be had in the contest at all. That the seat voted heavily to remain in the European Union – around 65 per cent according to Chris Hanretty’s estimates – will provide a glimmer of hope to the Liberal Democrats that they can finish a strong second, as they did consistently from 1992 to 2010, before slumping to fifth in 2015.

How they do in second place will inform how jittery Labour MPs with smaller majorities and a history of Liberal Democrat activity are about Labour’s embrace of Brexit.

They also have a narrow chance of becoming competitive should Labour’s selection turn acrimonious. The seat has been in special measures since 2004, which means the selection will be run by the party’s national executive committee, though several local candidates are tipped to run, with Afzal Khan,  a local MEP, and Julie Reid, a local councillor, both expected to run for the vacant seats.

It’s highly unlikely but if the selection occurs in a way that irritates the local party or provokes serious local in-fighting, you can just about see how the Liberal Democrats give everyone a surprise. But it’s about as likely as the United States men landing on Mars any time soon – plausible, but far-fetched. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.