Bring on the people’s bank

We get through a lot of ideas here, some of them pretty radical in their own way. Many of them sound like great or even vital ideas, but you just get the feeling that they’ll never get off the ground. Which makes it nice to read that the government is taking the Post Offices seriously.

As the headline had it, ‘‘.

The advantages of turning the Post Office into a bank are several. The government already owns a 49% stake in the company, so it would create a bank that is nationalised from the start, rather than one that gets delivered into public hands as a car wreck, which is what usually happens. Being a public bank, it would be free to take different kinds of risks from other banks, such as providing accounts or credit to those on low incomes. Loans and savings would be well balanced, and it wouldn’t be subject to the wild swings of the stock market. The infrastructure is already there, and it is a trusted name. It would be a stable, dependable place to put your money. Done right, it could be a new banking model for the 21st century.

Here’s hoping the government sees that opportunity, and resists the competing urge to flog their 49% and take the money. In order to help them make that decision, I’ve written to Peter Mandelson to voice my support for Post Office banking. Since it’s an opportunity to create a whole new kind of bank, I’ve also suggested they make it socially inclusive, and provide microfinance loans for small businesses.

If you’d like to give a good idea a little boost, I suggest you write too. You can use my letter to start you off if you like:

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