Banks pull together to stay open: Britain’s first shared branches set to open their doors this spring
- Banking hubs will be launched in April when lockdown eases
- The first 3 will be in Bedfordshire, Essex and Lanarkshire
- They will be shared between banks and feature Post Office counter services
Britain’s first shared bank branches are set to open their doors this spring. Mass branch closures have left scores of towns and villages without access to vital banking services.
Experts hope the new bank hubs will provide a lifeline for customers and small businesses in some of the worst-hit areas.
They will offer counter services run by the Post Office where customers with any bank will be able to deposit cheques, pay bills and withdraw cash.
Shared bank branches will offer counter services run by the Post Office where customers with any bank will be able to deposit cheques, pay bills and withdraw cash
There will be self-service machines which small businesses can use to deposit takings. Major banks will also take turns to offer face-to-face appointments in meeting rooms.
Some banks may require customers to make appointments in advance, while others may run a drop-in service.
The first three bank hubs will be opened in Ampthill in Bedfordshire, Cambuslang in Lanarkshire and Rochford in Essex.
Details of the exact whereabouts and opening hours are expected by the end of March, with the hubs scheduled to open once lockdown has eased in April.
The locations were chosen as part of the Community Access to Cash Pilots initiative, which was launched to help find a solution to Britain’s cash crisis.
Millions are still reliant on cash. Yet around 432 branches and 3,300 free-use cash machines have closed since the start of last year, according to Which? And increasing numbers of shops are refusing cash amid virus fears.
The scheme is also trialling cashback schemes in local shops and cash collection services, installing new ATMs and refurbishing Post Offices so it is easier for customers to carry out banking transactions.
Natalie Ceeney, chair of the Community Access to Cash Pilots, said: ‘There is growing recognition that we need to work together to keep cash sustainable. We’ve been working really hard over the past months to set up new ways to help communities access cash.
‘Without action, our cash infrastructure will collapse, as bank branches and ATMs close across the UK.’
The pilots run until September. It is then hoped they will be rolled out more widely.
The Treasury pledged to introduce new laws to protect cash last year. But despite regular meetings with banks, regulators and consumer groups, no action has yet been taken.