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Shared bank hub trials to be extended

Written by: Emma Lunn
Trials of shared banking hubs in two communities where all the bank branches have closed down are to be extended.

The ‘BankHUBs’ in Cambuslang, South Lanarkshire, and Rochford, Essex,  were due to close in October, but will now be operational until at least April 2023.

The premises, managed by the Post Office, include counter services, ATMs and the opportunity for local businesses to deposit cash. Staff from different banks visit the hub once a week to help customers with more difficult transactions.

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.

Natalie Ceeney, chair of the Access to Cash Action Group which developed the pilots, said extending the scheme would give banks a better understanding of what “works for people, and what role services like these could play in the future”.

Banks have closed thousands of branches and ATMs in recent years, as more people make the move to online banking. For example, Lloyds announced in June that it will shut 44 branches, while Santander plans to close 111 branchesHSBC and TSB are also closing branches.

But the branch closures have prompted concerns that millions of people who rely on cash could be left stranded.

Gareth Shaw, Which? head of money, said: “Wave after wave of bank branch closures in recent years have left many people who depend on them for essential banking services at risk of being cut adrift, so it is encouraging that the shared branch trial is proving a successful solution.

“The initiative could provide a crucial piece of the puzzle to ensure local access to cash and banking services is maintained, but it is likely that a wider range of innovations will be required to address the different challenges faced by local areas.

“Which? supports new laws to make the Financial Conduct Authority the lead regulator for monitoring and enforcing requirements on access to cash, with strong powers to hold the industry accountable for providing access locally. It is vital that the government and regulators move swiftly in order to ensure appropriate banking services for customers remain available.”

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