Last month I had a great debate on a post suggesting the Post Office could be developed into a ‘People’s Bank’, an idea mooted by MP John Cruddas as a reaction to the current instability in the high street banks.
In his article, Cruddas pointed out that the decision about Post Offices was “sitting on the desk of James Purnell, the work and pensions secretary, and Peter Mandelson, the business secretary” and that the decision “will tell us whether the government realises that the game has changed.”
Apparently the govenment does realise the game has changed, as today the Guardian reports on a leaked letter from none other than Peter Mandelson, telling the government that “we should examine the prospects for Post Office Ltd becoming a much more significant player in financial services – offering a wider range of attractive products within easy reach of the whole population, available from an institution they can trust.”
Mandelson says the Post Office has two main strengths: “The first is the trusted ‘post office’ brand. The second is the fact that it offers direct physical contact across its widely accessible network with the 24 million people who visit a post office each week. As recent figures show, many savers have demonstrated their trust in the Post Office by moving their savings into accounts it offers. Similarly, the face-to-face contact which a post office offers is becoming an increasingly important and reassuring factor for many people – especially when many private companies, as well as many government agencies, are seeking to reduce their own face-to-face contact points.”
I’m not a fan of Mandelson, but credit where credit is due – this is a welcome boost for an innovative idea that would be good for savers, and good for local communities.
- The Post Office can be the people’s bank – Lindsay Mackay on the nef blog.