To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what discussions he has had with representatives of retail banks on maintaining a physical network of banks for customers that do not use digital services.
Treasury Ministers and officials have meetings with many organisations in the public and private sectors on a variety of issues.
Though I can understand the disappointment felt in a community when a bank branch closes, the decision to maintain a presence on the high street is a commercial one for the management team of a bank and Government does not intervene in those decisions.
The retail financial landscape is changing, as more consumers and businesses opt for the convenience, security, and speed of digital payments and digital banking. Banking service providers need to balance customer interests, market competition, and other commercial factors when considering their strategy.
However, the Government also firmly believes that the impact of branch closures should be understood, considered, and mitigated where possible so that all customers, wherever they live, continue to have access to over-the-counter banking services if they wish to use them. That’s why the Government supports the industry’s Access to Banking Standard which helps customers to understand the options they have locally to continue to access banking services, including specialist assistance for customers who need more help. Alternative options include the Post Office, which allows 95% of business and 99% of personal banking customers to carry out their everyday banking at 11,500 Post Office branches across the UK.
I also recently visited a trial Business Banking Hub being run by NatWest, Lloyds Bank and Barclays in Birmingham and I will continue to encourage banks to think creatively about how they can ensure that consumers can access a wide range of banking services on a sustainable basis.