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Credit: Phil Kiel

The Great British Post Bank

Protecting and preserving the Post Office has been a long-term aim of the CWU, the Communications Workers Union. Over the last few years we have developed a plan to ensure a sustainable future for the network through the creation of a stakeholder bank wholly owned by the Post Office. 

Branches from across the CWU are currently meeting for the Unions Annual Conference in Bournemouth. Together with debates on Brexit (endorsing the union’s decision not to back a second referendum) and restoring the “common ownership” principles of clause IV we heard from John McDonnell who reiterated Labours commitment to establishing a Post Bank. 

We know that this plan will protect and build jobs, help to rebuild communities and ensure the survival of the Post Office. While Giro Bank was privatised in the 1990’s in the UK, the concept of a Post Bank has been extremely successful in other countries, most notably in France with La Banque Postale and in Italy with Poste Italiane. 

The Labour Party pledged to support our aim in the 2017 general election manifesto and has since built on its promise with its recent report Building a New Public Banking Ecosystem. John McDonnell’s recent announcement of a radical shake up of the UK banking system is something that we have long been waiting for.

Like Labour, we believe that a network of Post Bank branches would halt the privatisation and closure of post offices, bringing important banking, business and community services under one roof. 

Local communities need this service desperately. Over the last 30 years, nearly two-thirds of bank branches have closed. A fifth of the population are now at least two miles away from their nearest branch. 

Such closures have coincided with the closure of 150 Crown Post Offices over the last five years. Rather than offering further austerity, Labour’s support for this policy would see the creation of some 3,600 Post Bank branches across the country.

The plan for thousands of post offices to become branches of a new publicly owned bank shows the ambition of the Labour Party’s plan to rebuild and reinvigorate these communities. Coupled with the fact that the Post Bank will operate as an ‘on-lender’ for Labour’s planned regional development banks, this series of proposals offers a new way forward for banking in the UK.

This announcement is another example of Labour under Jeremy Corbyn standing for real change by putting the future of the Post Office and post bank at the heart of rebuilding our towns, high streets and communities.

If Labour is to win the votes it needs to form a government, it must propose bold ideas that address the last 9 years of rampant Tory austerity. This latest announcement is a clear example of the Labour Party doing just that.

This Post Bank announcement would protect CWU members, preserve the Post Office and offer broken communities a desperate lifeline. That is something that we can all get behind.

Dave Ward is the General Secretary of the CWU.