Conservative Press Release: Local Woburn Sands Councillor and leader of the Conservative Group at MK City Council, Cllr David Hopkins, has expressed his disappointment (though not total surprise) that Barclays Bank plan to close the only remaining bank in Woburn Sands in April this year.
Whilst Barclays maintain that undeniably people are using online banking far more, the closure of a face-to-face facility will impact those more vulnerable and less IT savvy members of community the most. Cllr Hopkins is working with local MP Iain Stewart to see a cash point dispenser retained in Woburn Sands and a Mobile Banking service visiting the town weekly.
What's being done to protect access to cash?
In the May 2022 Queen's Speech, the government pledged to bring forward a Financial Services and Markets Bill following a longstanding Which? campaign calling for cash access to be protected. The Financial Services and Markets Bill aims to 'strengthen the United Kingdom's financial services industry, ensuring that it continues to act in the interest of all people and communities'.
Part of this includes making sure people across the UK can access their own cash with ease.
To support the FCA, the government said it will set out its expectations for a reasonable distance for people to travel when depositing and withdrawing cash in due course.
What are the alternatives to bank branches?
1. Using the Post Office – which we still gratefully still retain in Woburn Sands
2. Mobile banking vans – which Cllr Hopkins is campaigning for to visit Woburn Sands
3. Community bankers - professional bank staff who travel to areas with no branches and meet customers in shared local spaces, such as libraries or community centres.
4. Offering Technical support to bank customers who request it – again via the library
5. Support the Which Support our Freedom to Pay campaign - Cash is a necessity that millions couldn't live without, and a backup for everyone when online systems fail. But with card and digital payments becoming more and more popular and bank branches closing at an alarming rate, Cllr Hopkins shares Consumer Champions Which concerns that some people may be left behind.
Since the start of 2019, Barclays will have closed 574 branches, TSB 330, HSBC 303, and Lloyds 270. Additionally, M&S Bank closed all its in-store branches at the end of summer 2021 when it stopped offering current accounts, while Metro Bank announced 3 closures in 2022 - its first closures since we started recording data in 2015. *source: Which