Burgess Asks Why Taxpayers' Money is Used to Support Irish-Backed Post Office

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With unrest over Government bailouts being used for bonuses this week, Sara-Ann Burgess warns consumers that another haven for taxpayers' money - the Post Office - is not the wholly-British institution it appears to be.

Sara-Ann Burgess, MD Burgesses

I'd equally like to ask the Government why it isn't using taxpayers' money to support British-based organisations, especially since the Treasury Select Committee Chairman and Minister for Postal Affairs, John McFall, is so keen to turn the Post Office network into a state bank.

With unrest over Government bailouts being used for bonuses this week, Sara-Ann Burgess warns consumers that another haven for taxpayers' money - the Post Office - is not the wholly-British institution it appears to be.

Its financial services division, which offers everything from banking, loans and mortgages to credit cards, bonds and insurance, is a joint venture between the Post Office and the Bank of Ireland. Although its insurances are underwritten by a range of insurers, the Post Office is an Authorised Representative of the Bank of Ireland and as a result, customers fall under the guidelines of the Irish Financial regulator and not the UK one.

"This," says Payment Protection Insurance lobbyist Sara-Ann, "is mis-leading and has resulted in customers complaining to the media about their investments being held ultimately in the Bank of Ireland instead of closer to home."

She is concerned that customers are unaware of the Irish link and the fact that the UK Financial Services Authority has limited regulatory powers and asks why British taxpayers' money is being used to support an Irish company to sell its products.

"Yet again, it appears taxpayers' money is either not going where we thought it was or is being splashed about to support non-UK businesses. There's no mention of the Post Office's Irish connection in its 'about us' history - it talks about a 360 year plus connection with the British public and this is why so many people do business with the Post Office - it's perceived as a British institution."

The Post Office sells PPI and hence Sara-Ann's interest. She continues: "I've been calling for total transparency within the financial services sector for years and whilst I'm not suggesting that any of its products or services are dubious, I am asking for more up-front information to be provided, so consumers know exactly who they're dealing with.

"I'd equally like to ask the Government why it isn't using taxpayers' money to support British-based organisations, especially since the Treasury Select Committee Chairman and Minister for Postal Affairs, John McFall, is so keen to turn the Post Office network into a state bank."

Sara-Ann concludes: There have been calls for the Post Office to become a 'shop-front' for Government services - does this mean that the 'shop front' will be an advertisement for Irish Financial Services and should we be looking to Ireland for our Government leadership? The 'support your local economy' campaign is gathering momentum and I believe this extends to financial services as well, so buy British where you can."

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Sara Ann Burgess
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