LINK recommends 100th shared banking hub
Shared services are being set up in various locations around the country where bank branch closures mean people are left without banking services.
The hubs work in a similar way to a traditional bank branch, but they allow customers of any bank to withdraw and deposit cash, make bill payments and carry out regular banking transactions.
They also provide private spaces where customers can speak to community bankers from their own bank for more complicated matters that require specialist knowledge or privacy.
LINK, the UK’s cash machine and cash access network, took on the role as the co-ordinating body for shared bank hubs last year.
Shared banking hub recommendations
There are two ways for new hubs to be recommended. Whenever a participating bank or building society makes a change to its network (such as a branch closure or reduced opening hours) it notifies LINK in advance.
LINK will then assess the location’s needs, looking at what other services are available locally, the size of the location (people and number of shops) and determine whether the community needs a new hub. The criteria that LINK uses have been developed and agreed after extensive consumer and small business group input and are operated independently of the banks.
In addition, a community can also request a review itself. LINK will then independently assess the needs of that community using the same criteria.
To date, LINK has analysed the impact of 847 bank branch closures, as well as receiving more than 600 requests from members of the public.
Bramhall has been recommended as a result of community requests following the closure of several banks in the area. It is the 100th location to be recommended to have a shared banking hub.
LINK has also published recommendations for new cash deposit services in Horsforth (West Yorkshire), Dorking (Surrey) and Marple (Greater Manchester).
Delays in opening
However, a location being recommended by LINK for a shared banking hub or deposit service doesn’t necessarily mean the new service will be set up imminently.
As of 29 March 2023, there were only four banking hubs up and running. These are in Brixham (Devon), Cambuslang (South Lanarkshire), Cottingham (East Ridings of Yorkshire) and Rochford (Essex).
Age UK raised concerns about the speed of the rollout of banking hubs earlier this month.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “At the moment, our concern at Age UK is that there can be too long a delay between bank branches shutting down in an area, and a new banking hub becoming operational.
“To be fair to the banks, it takes time to establish a banking hub and get it going, but maybe we need a new rule whereby if they want to close a branch, they have to provide communities with enough notice for a hub to come on stream before all the traditional face-to-face banking services there disappears.”
John Howells, LINK CEO, said: “It’s vital to protect face-to-face banking services for the millions of consumers who rely on cash. 100 locations have now met agreed criteria for new services, and the shared hubs and deposit solutions being delivered will prove a valuable asset to those high streets.”