9 Nov 2010
Post Offices are to increase their opening hours, increase access to bank current accounts and offer information for jobseekers amongst other plans outlined by the government. However proposals to create a Postbank have been rejected as being too ‘time-consuming’ and ‘expensive’.
Customers will be able to use counters and computer screens to access information about current accounts held with other banks – currently about 60% of bank current accounts are accessible via the Post Office. The government has announced that access will be extended to Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) accounts, including NatWest which will increase access to include 80% of UK current accounts. Customers of HSBC and Santander customers are currently unable to access current accounts through the Post Office.
However, option for the Post Office to offer increased banking services in its own right has been rejected. The government wants to expand the range of financial products and services backed by the Bank of Ireland. They are also exploring ways that Post Offices and Credit Unions can work more closely together.
The government’s long-term plan is for the Post Office to become mutually owned, similar to the structure of Co-operative Group, which would increase the level of control employees and sub postmasters have over the company.
Postal Affairs Minister Ed Davey commented: ““To underline our commitment we have announced £1.34 billion of funding over the next four years. The money will put the Post Office on a stable financial footing. It will help modernise the network and make it even more appealing to customers.”
The funding will include investment in improving online services. Mr Davey also announced that there are no new closures planned for the 11,500 network of branches across the UK.