debitcardThe Countryside Alliance has welcomed the announcement today (26 March), by the Business Secretary Vince Cable, that the major high street banks, consumer groups and the government have signed up to an agreement to work with customers and communities to minimise the impact of branch closures and put in place alternative banking services.

The protocol agreed with the British Bankers’ Association commits banks to work with local communities to establish the impact of the branch closure, prior to its closure;  find suitable alternative provision to suit individual communities and put satisfactory alternative banking services in place before a branch is closed. Options for this will include free to use cash machines, the proximity of alternative branches, and Post Office branches and mobile banking arrangements. 

Countryside Alliance head of policy Sarah Lee said: “Access to money and financial services in rural areas has never been so difficult. Twenty per cent of the population live and work in rural areas and yet only 12 per cent of bank branches are located there. This means it is becoming increasingly difficult for rural people and businesses to access their money and other services necessary to living and working in the countryside.

“A lack of access to financial services affects more than the immediate beneficiary, it harms the sustainability and economic viability of surrounding communities. With this announcement the Government has stated its commitment to small businesses and to rural life, but in reality this does not replace a bank in the community.”

For more information, contact Countryside Alliance head of media Charlotte Cooper on 0207 8409220 and 07500 834163 or email [email protected]

Note for journalists
• See the Government’s announcement at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/banks-agree-protocol-on-branch-closures