High street banks, consumer groups and the British government have signed up to an industry-wide agreement to minimise the impact of branch closures
London: The major high street banks, consumer groups and the government today signed up to an industry-wide agreement to work with customers and communities to minimise the impact of branch closures and put in place alternative banking services.
Business Secretary of UK Vince Cable wrote to banks in December 2014 calling for clear procedures setting out the steps that banks would take when closing a branch to ensure customers in rural and deprived areas do not lose out.
In response, the British Bankers Association (BBA) – the trade association for the UK banking sector – has agreed the guidelines with consumer and business groups, charities and wider government.
The protocol commits the banks to:
- work with local communities to establish the impact of the branch closure, prior to its closure
- find suitable alternative provision to suit individual communities
- put satisfactory alternative banking services in place before a branch is closed. Options for this will include free to use cash machines, the proximity of alternative branches, and Post Office branches and mobile banking arrangements
The protocol will be reviewed by an independent reviewer after one year.
A majority of the banks’ customers can already access banking services via the Post Office. And with more than 11,500 branches, the Business Secretary believes that the Post Office network plays a vital role in providing access to banking services particularly in more remote areas or those that are poorly served by the banks.