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The Treasury does not hold data on bank branch closures. The decision to close a branch remains a commercial judgement for banks. However, the impact on communities must be understood, considered and mitigated where possible.
The Access to Banking Protocol was a 2015 industry-wide agreement on bank branch closures, designed to help minimise their impact on customers and communities. In November 2016, Professor Russel Griggs published an independent ‘one year on’ review of the Protocol, following which the new Access to Banking Standard came into effect in May 2017. The Standard 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.
99% of banks’ personal and 95% of banks’ business customers are 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 Autumn Budget 2017, my predecessor 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. The Government is committed to ensuring that communities across the UK are fully aware of the important services that remain available to them at their local Post Office, even if their bank branch is closed.