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

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Commons Confidential: Fearing the Wigan warrior

An electoral clash, select committee elections as speed dating, and Ed Miliband’s political convalescence.

Members of Labour’s disconsolate majority, sitting in tight knots in the tearoom as the MP with the best maths skills calculates who will survive and who will die, based on the latest bad poll, observe that Jeremy Corbyn has never been so loyal to the party leadership. The past 13 months, one told me, have been the Islington rebel’s longest spell without voting against Labour. The MP was contradicted by a colleague who argued that, in voting against Trident renewal, Corbyn had defied party policy. There is Labour chatter that an early general election would be a mercy killing if it put the party out of its misery and removed Corbyn next year. In 2020, it is judged, defeat will be inevitable.

The next London mayoral contest is scheduled for the same date as a 2020 election: 7 May. Sadiq Khan’s people whisper that when they mentioned the clash to ministers, they were assured it won’t happen. They are uncertain whether this indicates that the mayoral contest will be moved, or that there will be an early general election. Intriguing.

An unguarded retort from the peer Jim O’Neill seems to confirm that a dispute over the so-called Northern Powerhouse triggered his walkout from the Treasury last month. O’Neill, a fanboy of George Osborne and a former Goldman Sachs chief economist, gave no reason when he quit Theresa May’s government and resigned the Tory whip in the Lords. He joined the dots publicly when the Resolution Foundation’s director, Torsten Bell, queried the northern project. “Are you related to the PM?” shot back the Mancunian O’Neill. It’s the way he tells ’em.

Talk has quietened in Westminster Labour ranks of a formal challenge to Corbyn since this year’s attempt backfired, but the Tories fear Lisa Nandy, should the leader fall under a solar-powered ecotruck selling recycled organic knitwear.

The Wigan warrior is enjoying favourable reviews for her forensic examination of the troubled inquiry into historic child sex abuse. After Nandy put May on the spot, the Tory three-piece suit Alec Shelbrooke was overheard muttering: “I hope she never runs for leader.” Anna Soubry and Nicky Morgan, the Thelma and Louise of Tory opposition to Mayhem, were observed nodding in agreement.

Select committee elections are like speed dating. “Who are you?” inquired Labour’s Kevan Jones (Granite Central)of a stranger seeking his vote. She explained that she was Victoria Borwick, the Tory MP for Kensington, but that didn’t help. “This is the first time you’ve spoken to me,” Jones continued, “so the answer’s no.” The aloof Borwick lost, by the way.

Ed Miliband is joining Labour’s relaunched Tribune Group of MPs to continue his political convalescence. Next stop: the shadow cabinet?

Kevin Maguire is Associate Editor (Politics) on the Daily Mirror and author of our Commons Confidential column on the high politics and low life in Westminster. An award-winning journalist, he is in frequent demand on television and radio and co-authored a book on great parliamentary scandals. He was formerly Chief Reporter on the Guardian and Labour Correspondent on the Daily Telegraph.

This article first appeared in the 27 October 2016 issue of the New Statesman, American Rage