The NFSP fully welcomes the Banking Services (Post Offices) Bill that is going to be presented by Duncan Baker MP on 2 March 2021. The Bill will ensure that banking institutions are mandated to maintain a minimum level of banking services for their customers, including the provision of cash via the post office network, even when they have left an area.
This legislative move shows that new focus has been placed on the need to stop the slide into a cashless society due to bank closures and the promotion of online banking over service to customers.
The Access to Cash Review states that “17% of the UK population – over 8 million adults – would struggle to cope in a cashless society” (source: www.accesstocash.org.uk/media/1087/final-report-final-web.pdf). It is always the most vulnerable that are worst affected when banks and building societies close, with branches closing in deprived communities across the UK four times faster than in wealthy areas (979 branches in the most deprived areas of the country compared with 223 in the richest local authorities between Jan ‘18 to May ’19 – source: https://campaigns.which.co.uk/freedom-to-pay/wp-content/uploads/sites/20/2019/10/Cash-strapped-communities.pdf).
Calum Greenhow, Chief Executive of the NFSP said: “We welcome this Ten-Minute Rule Bill and throw our support behind it completely. Our subpostmasters want to continue supporting all members of our local communities and the Government need to support the drive for a stronger alliance between banks and post offices to ensure we can look after the most vulnerable who require access to the services that only post offices can provide once a bank has left the area. We look forward to continuing our work with those sponsoring the Bill to try and ensure it gets Government support and enters the statute book.”
The Bill is to be presented on 2 March 2021 and has been co-sponsored by a number of high-profile MPs across the House including Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt, Sir Graham Brady, Rt Hon Esther McVey and Chair of the APPG on Post Offices, Marion Fellows.
Duncan Baker, Primary Sponsor of the Bill, says: “The “Banking Services (Post Offices) Bill strengthens the current Banking Framework to ensure that local communities have access to the banking services they need to function. Banks are closing around the country, and the trend is only intensifying. Between 2010 and 2018 about 5,000 bank and building society branches in England closed, a rate of almost two every day. A recent survey by the National Federation of SubPostmasters has shown that subpostmasters act as an unofficial support network for over 300,000 vulnerable people (source: https://nfsp.org.uk/news/view?name=post-offices-a-support-mechanism-for-300000-vulnerable-people) and this Bill will ensure that authorised financial institutions, like the Post Office, can step in to provide the facilities needed in a financially inclusive manner and ensure that no one is left behind.”
Duncan Baker continued: “Our post offices are the beating heart of our communities, with 90% of the 11,500 strong post office network remaining open during the first coronavirus lockdown, a figure that rose to 98% in the second lockdown”.
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