On 22nd October 2019 the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked the Government “what assessment they have made of the impact on rural communities of the decision by Barclays Bank to end cash withdrawal services from the Post Office”. The bishop then asked a follow-up question:
Lord Bishop of St Albans: I beg leave to ask the Question in my name on the Order Paper and declare my interest as president of the Rural Coalition.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Northern Ireland Office (Lord Duncan of Springbank): My Lords, the Government are disappointed by the withdrawal of Barclays from the renegotiated banking framework. None the less, the new banking framework will enable customers to access their cash from 27 high street banks. The Government will continue to ensure that communities receive support and have choice about how they manage their finances.
Lord Bishop of St Albans: I thank the Minister for his reply. Rural communities rely on access to finance, but in many rural areas where there is poor broadband or weak mobile signal, online banking is impossible. This is a fundamental issue for our rural areas. What representations have Her Majesty’s Government made to Barclays Bank, and what will we do if other banks decide to follow its lead?
Lord Duncan of Springbank: The right reverend Prelate asks an important point: does this set a precedent? I certainly hope not. I would like to think that customers affected will reflect carefully on whether they should continue banking with Barclays. I am fully aware of the issues faced by those in the rural communities of which he speaks.