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After raft of closures… at last a lifeline for your local bank

Key report mapping out how banks intend to assist protect nationwide entry to money and branches on excessive avenue is anticipated to be introduced

A key report mapping out how the banks intend to assist protect nationwide entry to money and branches on the excessive avenue is anticipated to be introduced in ten days’ time. 

Put collectively by Natalie Ceeney, chair of a group arrange by banking foyer group UK Finance to search out options that can preserve money on the excessive avenue, it’s prone to pave the best way for the rollout of shared branches or banking hubs. 

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These are branches the place the operating prices are shared by the foremost banks with fundamental banking companies supplied by a third celebration such because the Post Office. 

Cash in hand: Shared branches or banking hubs are branches where the running costs are shared by the major banks with basic services provided by a third party such as the Post Office

Cash in hand: Shared branches or banking hubs are branches the place the operating prices are shared by the foremost banks with fundamental companies supplied by a third celebration such because the Post Office

The Mail on Sunday has lengthy known as for a community of such branches to be arrange as half of its Keep Our Cash Campaign – permitting prospects of all banks (together with small enterprise accountholders) to do their banking in a single place on the excessive avenue and meet with their very own bank’s representatives on particular days. 

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Although particulars of the report are being stored underneath tight wraps – Ceeney would not be drawn on the difficulty last week when pressed by The Mail on Sunday – it’s understood that banking hubs piloted in current months in each Scotland (Cambuslang, close to Glasgow) and England (Rochford, Essex) have proved nice successes, revitalising each communities. 

As a outcome, new hubs are actually deliberate for the New Year though it’s understood that their actual quantity and site are nonetheless being argued over. As foreshadowed by the MoS in October, it’s also anticipated that Ceeney will affirm that money machine community Link will play a key position in making certain communities are protected against shedding entry to money. The banks shall be required to offer Link discover of their intention to close particular branches and free-to-use ATMs. 

Link will then assess case by case whether or not any closure will compromise a neighborhood’s entry to money. If it does, it would have the proper to order the setting-up of a banking hub. Such a scenario is prone to come up the place a bank’s department closure leaves a neighborhood bankless. In such a circumstance, Link might insist on the hub being arrange within the closing department. 

Last week, Link additionally confirmed that by the tip of the yr, 2,000 retailers nationwide shall be providing cashback to prospects with out the necessity for them to make a buy. 

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This follows the introduction of supporting laws by the Government. Ceeney sees such cashback companies as essential to guaranteeing nationwide entry to money – and believes they’re significantly invaluable in low-income areas (the place many individuals can solely afford to take out small quantities of money) and remoted communities, the place a free-to-use money machine can’t be justified on business grounds. 

The companies are additionally good for the small companies that present them as a result of it reduces their have to bank money takings on a common foundation – a job made more and more tough by the closure of bank branches. 

Ceeney’s take care of the banks is not going to halt the rash of department closures – one other 70 had been introduced by Spanish-owned TSB last week, taking the full quantity of branches it has closed over the previous 4 years to 330. By subsequent June, its department numbers shall be right down to 220. Indeed, Ceeney’s report might persuade different banks to convey ahead closure programmes. Already this yr, some 800 bank branches have been culled. 

Derek French, a former govt of NatWest, has lengthy campaigned for the shared bank department format now being trumpeted by Ceeney. 

But the previous head of the now defunct Campaign for Community Banking Services fears that any deal that Ceeney has struck with the banks on banking hubs will fall far quick of what’s required. 

He advised The Mail on Sunday: ‘I’m making ready myself to be dissatisfied as there are 150 places in pressing want of a banking hub. 

‘A handful of new hubs is not going to handle the issue. And if department closures proceed at the tempo they’re presently operating at, we are going to want 400 hubs by 2026.’ 

French can be sceptical that, with out supporting laws, Link might wrestle to power banks to comply with all of the banking hubs it recommends. 

The Government says it’s ‘progressing legislative proposals to guard money for the long run’. 

While Ceeney wouldn’t touch upon her impending report, she did inform the MoS: ‘Recent department closures usually are not a shock given the business pressures dealing with excessive avenue banks. However, face-to-face banking companies are actually vital for hundreds of thousands. The hubs in Cambuslang and Rochford have proved common and point out that such hubs might present a resolution.

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