The Treasury Select Committee (TSC) is in consultation with major banking groups to create bank hubs in High Streets that may shortly only have one or even no branches left.
Lloyds, Barclays, HSBC and RBS would fund the hubs that could be in our local Post Offices or an existing bank branch, they would also have a trained member of staff in each branch.
The TSC’s report said: “there are still people that need and depend on a local branch” … “Banks should not rely just on internet and mobile services, as this has already proven weaknesses with IT failures”. The Government may have to change competition law to allow banks to do this.
On many High Streets, as the last high street bank closes, customers are then advised to use their nearest Post Office to do their banking. Customers can check their bank balance, withdraw and deposit money, but there is no banking specialist and you cannot get advice or help on setting up direct debits.
The Committee commented that taxpayers should not be indirectly subsidising Banks with tax payers money covering Post Offices losses for providing limited banking services at no direct cost for many banks across the UK.
Lloyds, Natwest and Barclays are already providing banking hubs for small businesses with six having been opened this year already in Birmingham, Bristol, Crosby, Leicester, London and Manchester.
In Scotland, after a wave of closures from RBS, Clydesdale and TSB, the Deputy First Minister John Swinney has asked for banking hubs for personal customers. The idea would be that a different bank would take turns using the same office on alternate days.
We have long floated this idea and even thought or applying for multiple banking agency licences ourselves to set up a banking hub as a test. We hope leading banks and the Treasury can make this work for the sake of the High Street.