In today’s Westminster Hall debate on Post Office provision in North Yorkshire, I have called for more support for Post Offices in communities, particularly those who no longer have banking services.
Post Office services are always critical and at the heart of our local communities. However, this is particularly the case now because banks in villages and towns such as Kirkbymoorside and Filey are closing as they hand over responsibility for banking services to the Post Offices and walk away. I am concerned that there is no long-term guarantee of how long those Post Offices will exist and, as I said in the debate, “to provide this important service for local people, it is critical that we continue to invest in our Post Offices so that people have physical access to banking services and to the many other services that Post Offices provide.”
During the debate the Minister responsible for Post Offices, Small Business Minister Kelly Tolhurst MP, reminded the house that “Between 2010 and 2018, the Government provided nearly £2 billion to maintain and invest in a national network of at least 11,500 Post Offices. 90% of the UK population must be within one mile and 99% within three miles of their nearest branch. Government investment has enabled the modernisation of more than 7,000 branches, added more than 200,000 opening hours per week and established the Post Office as the largest network trading on a Sunday”.
In response, I told the minister that I recognised this important point, “However, my concern is where this support goes, because of the closure of banks, Post Offices end up being the only physical premises at which someone can bank. If the Government were to withdraw their support, those towns will have no banking service. Can we do more either to stop banks closing the last branch in a town, or to give longer-term support to Post Offices to ensure that that does not happen?”
I will continue to press for long term support to secure access to local banking services and I am supporting my fellow MP Luke Graham’s bill that would give rural areas more support and protection from bank closures. https://services.parliament.uk/bills/2017-19/bankingandpostofficeservicesruralareasandsmallcommunities.html