Post Office launches first ‘bankhubs’
The hubs have been opened in Rochford in Essex and Cambuslang in Scotland. They are run by the Post Office, but will include dedicated spaces where customers can speak to ‘community bankers’ from their own bank.
Each of the hubs will provide users with basic banking and cash services, like free-to-use ATMs, places to deposit cash into their bank accounts and a counter service.
Martin Kearsley, banking director at Post Office, noted that in many communities the Post Office was the last counter in town for cash services, and suggested that the new bankhubs would be a “lifeline” to many.
He continued: “The Post Office network has long formed the bedrock of cash access in the UK and we’re fully committed to continuing and expanding that role. We see it as essential that any community struggling amid bank branch closures, and those whose livelihoods depend on cash, be provided with an appropriate solution, and hope that in partnership with the banks, the hubs will prove to be a great success.”
Improving our access to cash
The bankhubs are one of a collection of different pilot schemes being launched by the Communities Access to Cash Pilots (CACP) initiative across the country. The pilots were chosen last year based on their location, the issues the individual communities faced, and the local people willing to lead those pilots.
Alongside bankhubs, the other pilot cash services include:
- Automated local cash deposit facilities for small businesses
- Refurbishing Post Office branches with streamlined cash services so it’s easier to withdraw and deposit money quickly
- Pop-up Post Office services, with Post Office counters delivered through existing small shops
- Cashback from local stores, restaurants and pubs
- More free-to-use ATMs
Natalie Ceeney, chair of the CACP, said: “Many more people are shopping online and using digital or contactless payments now, even for items that they would have paid for with cash before the pandemic. However, cash remains critically important, not only as a back-up when payment systems go down, but for millions of people who can’t use digital payments, don’t have reliable broadband or mobile coverage or simply cannot afford or don’t have access to wider banking services that many of us take for granted. “
The pilots come off the back of years of bank closures. Just last month Santander announced plans to close 111 branches, while analysis from Which? has suggested that as many as 3770 branches have been shuttered since 2015.