On 12 August 2015, a letter from Anna Soubry (Minister for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise) and Harriett Baldwin (Economic Secretary) to Anthony Browne, the Chief Executive of British Bankers’ Association, about bank branch closures was published on the gov.uk website.
The letter expressed a concern in relation to the pace and development of alternative options which threaten to leave customers without local access to banking. Although the ministers acknowledged that decisions to close branches are ultimately commercial, they stressed the importance that this is done responsibly, and efforts are made to provide adequate banking arrangements reflecting local circumstances – including small business needs – before a branch closes.
The letter comes after an agreement between the government and big banks that the UK’s 12,000 Post Office branches would provide basic services, such as paying in cheques and withdrawing cash. The agreement also stipulated that before a branch closure, banks must consult local communities, provide a three month notice, and communicate the decision to customers and outline alternatives.
The previous Business Secretary and Economic Secretary also referred to the request made previously to the BBA on the industry’s view on the viability of shared branch arrangements, noting that the work is likely to be well advanced and that they looked forward to hearing its conclusions.
A response on the issues raised has been invited before the end of September.