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UK banks forced to make account switching easier

The Payments Council has unveiled the landmark Current Account Switch Guarantee and Trustmark, which has the potential to shake up the UK's financial services sector.

It is aimed at making it easier for people to switch their bank account provider within seven working days and is viewed as an important tool in stimulating competition across the banking industry.

The new provider will be responsible for transferring all direct debits and payments over from the old account and will arrange for transactions accidentally made on the old account to be moved over for a period of 13 months.

Consumers will also have more protection against anything that goes wrong as a result of the changeover.

Chief executive of the Payments Council Adrian Kamellard hopes the reforms will restore people's confidence in the banking industry.

Meanwhile, Conservative MP Andrea Leadsom welcomed the idea, but told the Financial Times that full portability - which means account numbers are kept exactly the same - would be a more thorough solution.

That said, she conceded this is an unlikely development because banks would be opposed to the costs involved.

By Claire Archer