Bookmark and Sharelindsay-mackie2Lindsay Mackie is a consultant at nef. She is leading nef’s post office campaign and works on Clone Town and Ghost Town Britain.

They have not been earth shattering, but two recent developments around the Post Office are a cause for modest cheer.

One is the Post Office consultation set up by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, Prop: Lord Mandelson.

Now this a foolish exercise in long grass exploration in one way- any decent Government would be taking firm steps itself to safeguard the Post Office network, give more Government business to Post Offices , make imaginative use of this national network– and indeed go the whole hog and set up a Post Bank. But this one isn’t and when a gift horse comes along its best to do more than a dental examination. BIS is consulting us on suggested financial services that the Post Office should provide and we should all be sending in our ideas and responses to postofficebanking@bis.gsi.gov.uk or to Post Office Banking Consultation, Shareholder Executive, BISA, 1,Victoria St. London.

BIS wants to know what we like about the PO existing financial services , what we think might also be offered which exists elsewhere in the world, what new financial services we’d like at our local Post Office, and how best could the Post Office support poor people and people who are financially excluded.

Loud and clear we must tell BIS that we want current accounts, much more help for small local businesses, budgeting assistance schemes, attention to the queuing problem and an underlying shift of Government opinion about the Post Office-from thinking that it is a drain on the public purse, to realising that it is a trusted national asset capable of expanding to fit the 21 st century. The consultation must end by the end of February.

And lets raise a cheer for Consumer Focus which this week in a crisp little report, which actually talked to hundreds of people, recommended an immediate current account which the financially excluded would actually use, thus lifting up to a million people from their currently state (brought about mainly because banks aren’t interested in engaging with people on low incomes and the feeling is therefore reciprocated).

The Government would do well to read Consumer Focus’s report – and then implement it.

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