The Government is committed to improving access to financial services. While the decision to close a branch remains a commercial judgement for banks, the impact on communities must be understood, considered and mitigated where possible.
The industry’s Access to Banking Standard, launched in May 2017, commits banks to ensure personal and business customers are better informed about branch closures and the reasons for them closing, along with the options they have locally to continue to access banking services, including specialist assistance for customers who need more help. The Access to Banking Standard is monitored and enforced by the independent Lending Standards Board.
95% of banks’ business customers are now able to withdraw cash, deposit cash and cheques, and make balance enquiries at a Post Office counter via its network of 11,600 branches. At Budget, I wrote to the Post Office and UK Finance to ask them to raise public awareness of the banking services available at the Post Office for individuals and SMEs.
Government will have provided nearly £2 billion during the period 2011 to 2018 to maintain and modernise the Post Office network.