Banks agree to share more branches in fight to save cash after trial is hailed a major success
- UK banks agree to share services to ensure communities have access to cash
- Communities cash needs to be independently assessed
- Shared banking hubs to be set up, plus free ATMs, and more Post Office services
Shared bank branches have been hailed a major success in the fight to allow people to access cash and will now be rolled out further across the country.
Two new bank hubs were launched in Rochford and Cambuslang, on the outskirts of Glasgow, in April. Major banks NatWest, Lloyds, Santander, HSBC and Barclays take it turns to offer a service one day a week.
There is also a Post Office counter where all customers can pay in cheques and money, withdraw cash and settle bills.
Teaming up: A shared bank branch project in Glasgow has seen NatWest, Lloyds, Santander, Barclays and HSBC using a single hub branch on alternate days
The shared buildings have proved so popular they will now stay open until at least March 2023.
And it is hoped five more will be launched by Easter next year in Acton, West London, Brixham in Devon, Carnoustie in Angus, Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, and Syston in Leicestershire.
The Post Office has also announced this week that it will install ‘dedicated cash services’ in 30 branches over the next 12 months which could include banking counters and self-service machines.
More than eight million adults are at risk of being left behind as Britain marches towards a cashless society.
The banking hubs were launched as part of the Community Access to Cash Pilots scheme, which trialled 40 new services in eight locations across the country.
Its final report, published today, reveals shared branches were by far the most popular among both customers and small businesses and met the widest range of needs. Around 92 customers visited each day and £4.65 million has been deposited at the two sites since they launched.
When surveyed, 95 per cent of customers rated the service as ‘good’ or ‘very good’.
Some described the hubs as a ‘lifeline’, saving them hours of travel and helping them to manage their money better and avoid overdraft charges. Retailers said they also encouraged people to shop on the high street, giving the local economy a real boost.
However, the report acknowledged that they were expensive to run so it is unlikely they would be suitable in smaller towns with less demand.
Cashback services were also popular, particularly in smaller communities and when offered by convenience stores and cafes rather than specialist shops such as pharmacies.
And many residents liked them because they could access smaller sums, with 50 per cent of people asking for less than £20. But they were only useful as a ‘back-up’ and were not a substitute for an ATM, the report concluded.
Unsurprisingly, people who rely on cash were not as comfortable using digital services, with automated deposit machines used far less than expected, it added.
Ministers have pledged to introduce new laws to protect cash. John Glen MP, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, says: ‘Access to cash has ongoing importance to the daily lives of millions of people across the UK, and protecting it is a priority for myself and this Government.
‘Following the Government’s commitment to legislate, I am pleased to see firms working together to develop new initiatives to support continued access to cash. This is a great start and I look forward to seeing the impact of industry’s announcements for new and improved cash facilities in local communities across the UK.’