To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of recent analysis from Which? on the rate of bank branch closures; and what his planned timetable is for bringing forward legislative proposals on protecting access to cash.
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what comparative assessment he has made of the effectiveness of (a) voluntary commitments and initiatives from the payments industry and (b) statutory Government and regulatory oversight in protecting access to cash; and what his planned timetable is for bringing forward legislative proposals on that matter.
To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has plans to bring forward legislative proposals on protecting access to cash in next year's Queen's Speech.
The Government recognises that cash has ongoing importance to the daily lives of millions of people across the UK, particularly to those in vulnerable groups. That is why the Government has committed to legislate to protect access to cash for those who need it and ensuring that the UK's cash infrastructure is sustainable for the long term.
To support the development of legislation, the Government has undertaken an Access to Cash Consultation seeking views on proposals for new laws to make sure people only need to travel reasonable distances to pay in or take out cash. The Government’s proposals intend to support the continued use of cash in people’s daily lives and help to enable local businesses to continue accepting cash by ensuring they can access deposit facilities. The consultation closed on 23rd of September, and the Government will set out next steps in due course.
Alongside the Government’s commitment to legislate, industry also has an important role to protect access to cash. The Government therefore welcomes the announcement to fund additional shared service Bank Hubs and the direction set by the recent announcement from the Cash Action Group on industry commitments to support access to cash. The Government looks forward to seeing what results these industry initiatives deliver in protecting cash facilities for local communities across the UK.
HM Treasury does not make direct assessments of banks’ or building societies’ branch networks, and decisions on opening and closing branches are a commercial decision for firms. The Financial Conduct Authority expects firms to carefully consider the impact of planned branch closures on their customers’ everyday banking and cash access needs and consider possible alternative access arrangements. Alternative options for access include the Post Office, where 95% of business and 99% of personal banking customers can carry out their everyday banking.