Access to cash has attracted cross party support and the picture emerging from the Commons Treasury Select Committee is not good news for the millions of individuals and small businesses who rely on it.
The public’s access to cash continues to be an issue of concern for the Commons Treasury select committee which last week published correspondence from the high street banks on branch closures.
Data received from NatWest, Lloyds Banking Group, TSB, Barclays, Santander, HSBC and Nationwide confirmed their current number of branches, their plans to maintain branches, factors considered when closing a branch, details of the support provided to customers when a branch is closed and the number of so called ‘last in town’ branches.
Commenting on the responses, Rt. Hon. Mel Stride MP, Chair of the Treasury Committee, said: “For many, particularly small businesses, the elderly and vulnerable, access to a bank branch is vital to accessing cash. While it is encouraging that the high street banks have engaged so positively with the Committee, we note that there are over 200 ‘last in town’ bank branches across the country. We are concerned that, should these close, vital access to cash and banking services will be out of reach for many communities. The Committee will continue to monitor the impact of bank branch closures on access to cash as part of our broader work.”
Britain’s big high street lenders have been reducing the number of branches as increasing numbers of customers move to banking online.
In response to the trend Which? the not-for-profit consumer champion has launched the Freedom to Pay campaign to help protect cash as a payment option and to prevent the country sleep walking into a cashless society and in the process leaving some people behind. The Which? Freedom to Pay petition is currently endorsed by over 180,000 signatures.