The Tobacco Alliance, which represents 21,000 CTNs, is urging the government to cut cigarette taxes to reduce tobacco smuggling. The Financial Times said that a survey by the alliance showed more than half of its members had been approached with offers of bootleg tobacco. It also found that more than a quarter had cut staff because of the impact smuggled cigarettes were having on their trade, with the average shop losing more than £50,000 in annual turnover.

Chairman of the Trade and Industry Select Committee Martin O’Neill criticised the government over its lack of support for the Royal Mail’s no-frills bank account, according to The Times. O’Neill urged the government to make it easier for young people claiming benefits to open an account. The Royal Mail’s card account is hoped will bolster business in post offices once giros are paid directly into bank accounts in April.

Meanwhile the Financial Times reported that Post Office will be accepting debit cards for payment. Customers banking with Link will be able to withdraw cash, deposit money and make balance enquiries at all 17,500 post office branches from April.