Bank Services: Closures

Treasury written question – answered at on 20 October 2023.

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Photo of Colleen Fletcher Colleen Fletcher Opposition Whip (Commons)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what estimate his Department has made of the number of closures of (a) bank branches and (b) free-to-use ATMs in (i) Coventry North East constituency, (ii) Coventry, (iii) the West Midlands and (iv) England in each of the last three years.

Photo of Andrew Griffith Andrew Griffith The Economic Secretary to the Treasury

While the government does not make direct assessments of branch networks, it believes that all customers, wherever they live, should have appropriate access to banking and cash services.

The government legislated through the Financial Services and Markets Act 2023 to establish a new legislative framework to protect access to cash. This establishes the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) as the lead regulator for access to cash and provides it with responsibility and powers to seek to ensure reasonable provision of cash withdrawal and deposit facilities across the UK, including free withdrawal and deposit facilities in relation to personal current accounts.

Decisions on opening and closing branches and ATMs are a commercial issue, and the government does not intervene in these. However, under FCA guidance, firms are expected to carefully consider the impact of planned branch closures on the everyday banking and cash access needs of their customers and consider possible alternative access arrangements. This seeks to ensure that the implementation of closure decisions is undertaken in a way that treats customers fairly.

Alternative options for access to banking can be via telephone banking, through digital means such as mobile or online banking, and the Post Office. The Post Office Banking Framework allows 99% of personal banking and 95% of business banking customers to deposit cheques, check their balance and withdraw and deposit cash at 11,500 Post Office branches in the UK.

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