Santander Closures and Local Communities — [Philip Davies in the Chair]

Part of Backbench Business – in Westminster Hall at 2:14 pm on 14th February 2019.

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Photo of Paul Scully Paul Scully Chair, International Development Sub-Committee on the Work of the Independent Commission for Aid Impact 2:14 pm, 14th February 2019

The hon. Gentleman makes an interesting point. We have talked about how moving Crown post offices into WHSmith branches across the country will limit their structure, because they have some big buildings at the moment. The massive floor space of the one in Sutton is well used, so I am not sure how it will cope if it is restricted at the back of somewhere. It might be a regressive move. There is a limit to how much the Government can direct the Post Office and banks, but they must have a significant influence. They should treat the issue holistically as they look at the future of the high street in general.

We have talked about the access to banking standard. At least Santander now has to go through the process of mitigating the results and looking at who the most vulnerable people are—I hope it would want to do that anyway. The people using bank branches these days tend to be older people, who do not necessarily have access to technology or are not as good at using technology as others, and retailers, especially the independent retailers that I was talking about that are still cash-heavy and need to bank their cash.

For the two branches that are closing in my constituency, the alternatives to Cheam are 1.3 miles and 3.3 miles away, and the alternatives to Worcester Park are 1.8 miles and 3 miles away. For a small business that wants to pay cash in at the end of the day, if there is no post office near enough, that is some distance to go with what might be quite a lot of cash, which is not very secure.