Banks must provide access to cash for my constituents

I welcome the recent Barclays Bank announcement that branches in local market towns will be kept open but have significant concerns about withdrawal of support for banking services in post offices, which may damage their viability.

It is good to learn that Barclays will keep all its remote or ‘last-in-town’ branches open for the next two years, including those in Easingwold, Malton, Helmsley, Thirsk and Pickering. I would, however, prefer a longer-term commitment so that my constituents and businesses in and around these towns are able to continue accessing banking services at their local brick and mortar branch.

Last year, more than 750 high street bank branches shut across the UK; rural and coastal areas have often been badly affected where the number of bank branches is down to just one or even none. My constituents in Kirkbymoorside and Filey have seen their Barclays bank branch close. This leaves local people even more reliant on the Post Office for cash withdrawals and deposits and this is potentially a major blow for businesses and consumers in these towns.

I have concerns with Barclays’ recent decision to opt out of part of their agreement with the Post Office which allowed customers to withdraw cash and deposit money. Barclays’ decision to end its cash withdrawal scheme with the Post Office from January 2020 will reduce footfall and financial viability of our local post offices. This is a bad move; the people who rely on this service often live in rural communities and so this will affect my constituents the most. 28 other banks and building societies have updated their three-year agreement with the Post Office to allow for limited banking services and to take in and dispense cash. Their impact on communities is not insignificant; to date, Post Office’s 11,500-plus branches handled more than 130 million transactions on behalf of banks.

I welcome Barclays’ move to consider shared bank branches and looks forward to seeing them rolled out in towns across his constituency where bank branches have closed. These branches would be shared by several banks to spread operating costs. Barclays’ Head of Corporate Relations for Yorkshire & North East, Karen Swainston, said “this can potentially present a sustainable model for the provision of transactional banking services and access to cash. We plan to explore the viability of such infrastructure and the benefits this could bring for customers”.