JEFF PRESTRIDGE: This mini-branches gesture by Lloyds, Barclays and RBS is too little, too late 

A little, far too late. That is the only way to describe the decision by three of the country’s biggest banks to join forces and launch a number of shared mini-branches for business customers.

The initiative, that has already kicked off with a branch opening in Birmingham (Perry Barr), is a collaboration between Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland – a triumvirate which between them have been responsible for a majority of the 1,000-odd bank branches ruthlessly culled since the beginning of last year. 

Shared branches are also earmarked for Bristol, Crosby (Merseyside), Leicester, London and Manchester. The outlets, jointly owned, will be automated bar for the odd human overseer (hurrah) and allow business customers to come in and bank cash and cheques.

SSE has been asked to take on the 17,000 customers of collapsed Brilliant Energy

How ironic that Big Six energy provider SSE has been asked to take on the 17,000 customers of (not so) Brilliant Energy, the latest in a string of small supplier failures.

It is a reflection of regulatory failure by Ofgem which in its pursuit of greater competition has allowed any Tom, Dick, Harry or Fox (see page 103) to enter the market and challenge the fat boys. As sure as night follows days, more minnows will fall by the wayside – and other energy giants will mop up the mess.

Ofgem needs to get its act together. Yes, more competition, but from challengers fit for purpose.