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Our Concerns on Major Changes in the Banking Sector

The news that the Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group are to sell off almost a thousand branches, and reports that HSBC are to close over 50 branches this year, raises fresh concerns that many rural localities will lose their last remaining bank.

It is estimated that the number of rural locations with just a single bank runs into hundreds. A significant number of locations could be without a bank when these changes take effect over the next few years if no alternative buyers come forward.

The added cost and time involved in travelling to access banking services elsewhere would disadvantage considerable numbers of rural people and businesses, adding to the effects of the erosion of other services in rural areas and increasing financial exclusion in rural areas.

The Campaign for Community Banking Services has highlighted the need for government to require banks to have a legal duty to provide banking services in disadvantaged and vulnerable communities, as is the case in the United States. This might be a shared banking facility owned by several banks.

These developments give greater emphasis to the government’s plans for the Post Office to have an expanded role in the provision of financial and banking services.

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