'We need a bank in every village' - New plan to save services

The HSBC Bank in Attleborough which is to close. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The HSBC Bank in Attleborough which is to close. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

We need to protect rural banking services - that’s the message coming from a Norfolk MP.

North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker is introducing a bill to parliament that would ensure banking services, like cash withdrawal, are offered through high street Post Office counters after a bank branch closes in the area, with regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority.

“When a bank branch leaves the community it's not just residents who are affected, it is the small businesses, the elderly and vulnerable people,” Mr Baker said. 

Duncan Baker, Conservative candidate in North Norfolk. Picture: SUPPLIED BY THE CANDIDATE

North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker will present the Bill on March 2 - Credit: Archant

“Over the last 30 years we have seen about 14,000 bank branches shut around the country, next year there will be fewer than 6,000 left

“Vulnerable or disabled people can’t always travel to the closest branch 10 miles away and instead turn to more predatorial types of lending - like payday loans - and not everyone has access to online banking.” 

Many banks already offer services through the Post Office when they close a branch, however, there are no measures in place to stop them from cancelling their contracts.

Mr Baker pointed to Barclays, who in 2019 threatened to withdraw services, a decision they reversed after mass public outcry.

In total more than £2 million was spent sending MPs on foreign trips since the 2017 electionPhoto: P

The Bill will be introduced as a 10 minute rule bill, which allows an MP to make their case in a speech lasting up to 10 minutes. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Mr Baker said he had received support from the Post Office and across parliament. 

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, also offered support for the bill, stressing how important branches are for older people.

Most Read

Ms Abrahams said there has been a “tsunami of branch closures” in recent years, and the rapid move to online banking had a detrimental impact on older customers. 

“Closures in rural counties, where there may be a lack of public transport, make it even harder for customers to access their money. 

“The government should give serious consideration to making the Post Office Banking Framework compulsory."

Age UK Norfolk says the BBCs decision to scrap universal free TV licences for over-75s will harm mil

Age UK, a charity helping older people said they supported the Bill - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

Ms Abrahams added a firm step like this would be essential without action to tackle branch closures directly, but said a wide range of options was needed to help people access their money.

The Banking Services (Post Offices) Bill will go before the House of Commons on March 2. 

The Age UK Norfolk helpline is open 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday. Call on 0300 500 1217 or email advice@ageuknorfolk.org.uk 

Have you suffered as a result of a local bank branch closing? We would like to hear from you. Contact george.thompson@archant.co.uk

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus