Much has been made of bank branch closures, with concern for people who rely on face-to-face banking. In a positive first step, the banks have signed an agreement to minimise the impact of branch closures.
We’ve been working with the Government and the banking industry on a new protocol on branch closures, announced today.
The protocol requires banks to work with local communities to establish the impact of a branch closures before they close. Banks will also need to clearly set out what alternative services will be provided, as well as how changes will be communicated to customers, including special provisions for the most vulnerable.
Alternative banking facilities
We think it’s critical that banks introduce alternative banking options for customers, as our latest research shows that four in 10 people still use their local bank branch at least once a month. Three in 10 even said they’d switch banks if their branch closed.
We also asked people what they wanted to see if their bank closed and the most popular options were: ATMs being changed to provide other services like paying in cheques; the bank operating in another location, like a supermarket; services being offered in Post Offices; and banks sharing branches.
When we last asked you what banking alternatives you’d like to see, Malcolm R asked:
‘Perhaps Which? could ask the major banks and building societies about the possibility of shared facilities?’
Wendy summed it up nicely:
‘We need to be careful of not losing what can be a vital service sometimes!’
Making it work
The new protocol outlines that alternative services could include free-to-use ATMs, Post Office branches and mobile banking arrangements. Crucially, there will be an independent review in a year’s time, to make sure banks are putting your interests first.
We expect the banks to stick to their word and ensure that everyone can access vital banking services, no matter where they live.
Are you worried about bank branches closing in your area? What banking services would you be happy to use as an alternative?