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

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Lord Sainsbury pulls funding from Progress and other political causes

The longstanding Labour donor will no longer fund party political causes. 

Centrist Labour MPs face a funding gap for their ideas after the longstanding Labour donor Lord Sainsbury announced he will stop financing party political causes.

Sainsbury, who served as a New Labour minister and also donated to the Liberal Democrats, is instead concentrating on charitable causes. 

Lord Sainsbury funded the centrist organisation Progress, dubbed the “original Blairite pressure group”, which was founded in mid Nineties and provided the intellectual underpinnings of New Labour.

The former supermarket boss is understood to still fund Policy Network, an international thinktank headed by New Labour veteran Peter Mandelson.

He has also funded the Remain campaign group Britain Stronger in Europe. The latter reinvented itself as Open Britain after the Leave vote, and has campaigned for a softer Brexit. Its supporters include former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and Labour's Chuka Umunna, and it now relies on grassroots funding.

Sainsbury said he wished to “hand the baton on to a new generation of donors” who supported progressive politics. 

Progress director Richard Angell said: “Progress is extremely grateful to Lord Sainsbury for the funding he has provided for over two decades. We always knew it would not last forever.”

The organisation has raised a third of its funding target from other donors, but is now appealing for financial support from Labour supporters. Its aims include “stopping a hard-left take over” of the Labour party and “renewing the ideas of the centre-left”. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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