Financial Exclusion: Access to Cash — [Sir Henry Bellingham in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:30 am on 21st May 2019.

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Photo of Paul Sweeney Paul Sweeney Shadow Minister (Scotland) 10:30 am, 21st May 2019

I completely agree. My constituency, like the hon. Gentleman’s, has had a disproportionate number of closures. I commend and thank the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs, my hon. Friend Ged Killen, and the hon. Gentleman for their work on the issue. The LINK cut is critical, but we need legislative backing to safeguard provision. Many small businesses, including postmasters, are saying that they will not pay punitive business rates to maintain free cash access.

The discussions about credit unions are pertinent, and I commend the hon. Members for Glasgow East (David Linden) and for Harrow West (Gareth Thomas) for speaking about their work on the issue. As a result of the closure of the Greater Milton and Possilpark credit union, 4,212 members have had that facility taken away. Santander is threatening to close and remove its ATM, just as in Parkhead. This is a critical issue, because banks do not feel any sort of obligation to maintain their provision. In America, Santander has a £1.9 billion community reinvestment fund because the American Government have forced it to do that in poorer communities, but there is no equivalent legislative obligation in the UK.

We need legislative teeth to back up the provision of banking services in our poorest communities. I urge the Minister to recognise that urgent need in our communities, particularly in Glasgow North East.