Bank branch closure update: Labour pledges to create 350 banking hubs to 'breathe life into high streets'

Keir Starmer and cash access at banking hub

Labour is pledging to roll out banking hubs across the UK

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Patrick O'Donnell

By Patrick O'Donnell


Published: 17/06/2024

- 22:30

Bank branch closures are sweeping the country but the Labour Party is hoping its latest policy pledge will help affected customers

The Labour Party has pledged to create 350 banking hubs to offset the recent trend of branch closures and "breathe life into Britain's high streets".

Access to banking services across the UK have been decimated by the recent trend of bank branch closures but Sir Keir Starmer is hoping to improve this situation if his party wins July 4's General Election.


Banking hubs have been floated as viable alternative to traditional branches and have been introduced in areas where multiple banks and building societies have shut down sites.

These hubs allow staff from several banks to share the same operating space and fill in the gaps left in the system from the thousands of closures that have taken place.

Under the banking hub system, there is a counter service operated by the Post Office which allows customers to make routing banking transactions.

According to consumer watchdog Which?, the UK has closed more than 6,000 branches since 2015.

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NatWest bank branch sign, abandoned Barclays bank and Lloyds BankBank branch closures are continuing at an 'alarming rate', according to Which?GETTY

Last month, Cash Access UK announced that the 50th banking hub had opened and shared its plans to create 150 sites by the end of 2024.

Hubs are recommended by the organisation, which was created to protect peoples' access to cash, and ATM network Link.

Some 132 hubs have been recommended so far by Link with Cash Access UK delivering 56 of the hubs to date, with 76 in development. Once recommended, a hub takes around a year to open.

As part of Labour plans, the party will update qualifying criteria for the creation of banking hubs, as well as look into how hubs can support financial inclusion through digital training and debt advice.

Furthermore, Labour has confirmed it would give new powers to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and strengthen rules to better source potential banking hub areas.

These plans put forward by Sir Keir and Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves are part of the likely Government-in-waiting's wider plans for UK high streets.

Recently, Labour has promised to crackdown on anti-social behaviour and find ways to better support businesses in local communities.

Describing the state of Britain's high streets, Reeves claimed parts of the country “have been reduced to ghost towns”.

She said: “Labour’s plan for growth means bringing banking back to high streets, with hundreds of new banking hubs that can support local communities and their businesses.”

Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader and shadow housing secretary, added: “With our plan to bring banking back to the high street, replace business rates and cut energy bills for good, we will breathe new life back into Britain’s high streets.”

LATEST DEVELOPMENTS:

Post Office Banking HubPost Office and Cash Access UK have announced 50 Banking Hubs have now been opened POST OFFICE

John Howells, Link chief executive, outlined why these hubs are proving to be a vital lifeline for Britons who have been effectively left branchless.

He explained: “Link has already recommended 132 banking hubs right across the UK and they are proving a very popular way of providing access to cash and basic banking for consumers and businesses who need to use a high street branch.

“I’m expecting many more to open over the coming years to protect access to cash and provide a welcome boost to high streets across the country.”

Despite being community areas, each hub includes a private area where consumers can chat with staff from their respective banks about complex financial matters.

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