RAPID RESPONSES

Move on accounts
Surveys demonstrate that individuals and small businesses alike are often dissatisfied with their bank, and yet they are still overwhelmingly unlikely to change provider. Genuine account portability would radically improve matters.

Sir John Vickers has called for the formation by September 2013 of a free current account redirection service, that allows the switching of banks within seven days. The government has accepted this proposal, but we can do more.

Modern technology could enable the creation of a single shared clearing system, owned by the Bank of England (BoE) and holding all bank accounts centrally, with a unique identifier showing with which commercial operator each account is held.

The ability to switch accounts quickly and with the minimum of hassle would become a reality. A bank run would also be far less likely, as the BoE could transfer accounts from the failed provider to a solvent bank almost instantly. There is no doubt it would be expensive to set up and big banks are not keen (in the same way as mobile phone operators resisted number portability). However, if we are serious about removing the barriers to entry for new banking providers, there is no doubt that radical action is needed.

Andrea Leadsom, Conservative MP for South Northamptonshire and a member of the Treasury Select Committee.