Banks: Coronavirus

(asked on 23rd November 2020) - View Source

Question to the HM Treasury:

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to support bank branches at risk of closure during the covid-19 outbreak.

Answered by
John Glen Portrait
John Glen
Economic Secretary (HM Treasury)
This question was answered on 27th November 2020

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government has worked closely with the financial regulators to ensure that banks, building societies, credit unions and the Post Office continue to maintain branch access for essential banking services while balancing the needs of their customers with the safety and welfare of staff. The vast majority of branches have remained open.

In the longer term, banking service providers will need to balance customer interests, market competition, and other commercial factors when considering its branch strategy. Decisions on opening and closing branches are taken by the management team of each bank on a commercial basis and the Government does not intervene in these decisions.

However, the Government also firmly believes that the impact of branch closures should be understood, considered, and mitigated where possible so that all customers, wherever they live, continue to have access to over the counter banking services.

Since May 2017, the major high street banks have signed up to the Access to Banking Standard, in which they commit to ensure customers are well informed about branch closures, the bank’s reasons for closure and options for continued access to banking services.

In September 2020, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) published guidance setting out their expectation of firms when they are deciding to reduce their physical branches or the number of free-to-use ATMs. Firms are expected to carefully consider the impact of a planned closure on their customers’ everyday banking and cash access needs, and other relevant branch services and consider possible alternative access arrangements. This will ensure the implementation of closure decisions is done in a way that treats customers fairly.

Alternative options for access might include the Post Office, where 95% of business and 99% of personal banking customers are able to carry out their everyday banking at over 11,500 Post Office branches across the UK.

This content was generated for your convenience by Parallel Parliament and does not form part of the official record.
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