There'll be a new bank account switching service in September

Five questions answered.

The Payments Council has announced a new bank account switching service that will start on the 16 September. We answer five questions on the new scheme. 

What does the new service do exactly?

It enables current account holders to switch banks within seven days instead of up to 30 days. 

As of Monday 16th September, 33 bank and building societies brands – accounting for virtually 100 per cent of the current account marketplace – will deliver the new switching service for consumers, small charities and small businesses.

How will it work exactly?

After the start date, when switching accounts the new provider will arrange for all direct debits and standing orders to be redirected to the new account. This system will stay in place for 13 months so no one off payments are missed.

Payments going in will also be redirected.

Why is the Payments Council launching this service?

It is being launched as a recommendation from the Independent Commission on Banking two years ago. The commission said that people only changed bank accounts once every 26 years on average.

As a result, the so-called "big four" High Street banks - Lloyds Banking Group, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and HSBC - retain control over the market.

If it’s easier to switch, will banks be offering more incentives?

Yes! Two banks are already offering customers a cash incentive of up to £125 to switch their current accounts to them.

Will this new service provide a boost for smaller banks?

That’s one of the aims. Small banks taking place include the Reliance Bank, which is part of the Salvation Army – it has just one branch. Plus the Cumberland Building Society, which has 34 branches based across Cumbria and the north-west of England.

Payments Council has announced a new bank account switching service. Photograph: Getty Images

Heidi Vella is a features writer for

Photo: Getty Images
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The buck doesn't stop with Grant Shapps - and probably shouldn't stop with Lord Feldman, either

The question of "who knew what, and when?" shouldn't stop with the Conservative peer.

If Grant Shapps’ enforced resignation as a minister was intended to draw a line under the Mark Clarke affair, it has had the reverse effect. Attention is now shifting to Lord Feldman, who was joint chair during Shapps’  tenure at the top of CCHQ.  It is not just the allegations of sexual harrassment, bullying, and extortion against Mark Clarke, but the question of who knew what, and when.

Although Shapps’ resignation letter says that “the buck” stops with him, his allies are privately furious at his de facto sacking, and they are pointing the finger at Feldman. They point out that not only was Feldman the senior partner on paper, but when the rewards for the unexpected election victory were handed out, it was Feldman who was held up as the key man, while Shapps was given what they see as a relatively lowly position in the Department for International Development.  Yet Feldman is still in post while Shapps was effectively forced out by David Cameron. Once again, says one, “the PM’s mates are protected, the rest of us shafted”.

As Simon Walters reports in this morning’s Mail on Sunday, the focus is turning onto Feldman, while Paul Goodman, the editor of the influential grassroots website ConservativeHome has piled further pressure on the peer by calling for him to go.

But even Feldman’s resignation is unlikely to be the end of the matter. Although the scope of the allegations against Clarke were unknown to many, questions about his behaviour were widespread, and fears about the conduct of elections in the party’s youth wing are also longstanding. Shortly after the 2010 election, Conservative student activists told me they’d cheered when Sadiq Khan defeated Clarke in Tooting, while a group of Conservative staffers were said to be part of the “Six per cent club” – they wanted a swing big enough for a Tory majority, but too small for Clarke to win his seat. The viciousness of Conservative Future’s internal elections is sufficiently well-known, meanwhile, to be a repeated refrain among defenders of the notoriously opaque democratic process in Labour Students, with supporters of a one member one vote system asked if they would risk elections as vicious as those in their Tory equivalent.

Just as it seems unlikely that Feldman remained ignorant of allegations against Clarke if Shapps knew, it feels untenable to argue that Clarke’s defeat could be cheered by both student Conservatives and Tory staffers and the unpleasantness of the party’s internal election sufficiently well-known by its opponents, without coming across the desk of Conservative politicians above even the chair of CCHQ’s paygrade.

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.