Banks will be prevented from withdrawing their services from towns and villages that will be left without access to cash due to new powers given to the UK financial regulator.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) will have the power to order major banks and construction companies to continue offering services such as ATMs and mobile hubs so that residents can withdraw money regularly.
With the new powers, which will be included in the next Financial Services and Markets Bill, banks will be able to close branches even when they are the last branches available in a given community.
However, they must in some circumstances replace them with alternative services and ensure that they are easily accessible, leaving almost any Brit within two miles of a free cash delivery point.
More than 4,700 bank branches have closed since 2015 and another 227 are expected to close by the end of this year as banks try to shift to more digital services.
John Glenn, Secretary of the Economy at the Treasury, said: “Millions of people across the UK are still dependent on cash, especially those belonging to vulnerable groups, and today we deliver on our promise to ensure that wealth flows across communities.” secure access to the country.
“I want to make sure that people are still able to access cash as part of their daily lives, and it is important to ensure that no individual or community across the UK is left behind as we move towards a more digital embrace the world.”
The move was welcomed by the Scottish government given the large number of relatively remote communities in Scotland that risk losing easy access to cash.
A spokesman said: “The Scottish Government welcomes this much-needed legislation to protect consumers’ access to cash.
“This is especially important for rural communities and is a lifeline for consumers, especially small businesses and the most vulnerable.”
Martin Kersley, Director of Banking Products at the Post Office, said: “A powerful regulator that ensures the rights of the millions of people who rely on money to access it easily and securely for many years to come, This is something we and many others have asked.
“We welcome the government’s announcement and would like to see legislation that protects the entire cash cycle, including cash withdrawals, as many people control their family budgets by simply spending physically in their homes. choose to do. Their hands”.
The exact extent of the FCA’s powers – such as which banks and building societies will be involved and the maximum distance between ATMs – will be revealed when the bill is published.
By the end of the year, ministers are also expected to come up with proposals to ensure that, in addition to withdrawing cash, people can deposit it without traveling unreasonable distances.
UK cash is deserted
The steady growth in online and mobile banking has meant that bank branches across the country are increasingly closed.
according to research Which one?Nearly half of the country’s bank branch networks have closed since 20153f. Meanwhile, 12,178 free ATMs have gone missing from main roads in the last four years alone.
Some areas have become virtual deserts of cash, although the UK’s largest ATM network link estimates that 5.4 million people still rely on physical money.
The most vulnerable groups in society are more likely to depend on cash, such as the elderly, low-income people and those living in rural communities where residents often travel miles to reach the nearest source.
Digital infrastructure is often poor in these areas, making it more difficult for residents to accept online banking and payments.
Lack of access to both cash withdrawal and deposit facilities can also affect companies that use bank branches to exchange shares and discontinue bills and coins for security reasons.
Scotland was the first part of the UK to close more than half of its banks, with 545 of its 1,040 branches already closed. I He learns that his remotest ATM on Britain’s northernmost island, Anst, has recently shut down.
The constituencies of Carmarthen East and Dinefever in Wales have seen the largest number of bank branch closures since 2018. Which one?, Of the original 15, only two remain.
But more urban areas have also been affected by the shutdown. Sheffield Hallam in South Yorkshire closed each of its bank branches in the same period. There are 25 ATMs still operating in the area with a population of about 92,000 – only 1.85 ATMs are available for every 10,000 residents.
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