CWU has campaigned for creation of a state-owned Post Bank, to help maintain existing network of Post Office branches across UK
CWU has welcomed the launch of a trial current account at the Post Office, but says ministers have missed an opportunity to create a genuine alternative to High Street banking.
The Post Office says the project, designed to mirror a similar scheme which has operated in conjunction with the Bank of Ireland since 2004, will see trials at a small number of branches in the coming weeks before it is rolled out to more than 11,000 branches next year.
Campaigners say they would like to see greater urgency behind the project.
Billy Hayes, CWU general secretary, said: “It’s clearly great news to see the Post Office launching a current account. It’s a well-overdue development which will help to bring greater access to banking to many communities.
“If successful, it will particularly help many rural and urban deprived communities which have no access to banking locally.
“However, it is a shame that the opportunity to launch a publicly-owned Post Bank has been missed.
“The launch of this new current account clearly shows the business case and demand is there, but this is not a substantially different product in banking terms.
“We hope that the initiative is successful and helps to drive more traffic and business into the country’s post offices.
“We also hope the Post Office has got a good deal with the Bank of Ireland on revenue-sharing which will help to maintain the network and move away from damaging plans to franchise or close 76 Crown offices and down-grade many sub offices to ‘locals’ when these will be so vital to the success of expanded financial services.”
Officials say there has been a long wait for the Post Office current account scheme.
Alan Cook, the previous Chief Executive of the Post Office, had told MPs that a Post Office current account would be launched in 2010. The date was later set at spring 2011.
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